Smuggling at Sea

TIME Magazine just published this story on the recent spike in human smuggling by sea along the San Diego coast. I examined the issue in this story last year.

The TIME story has a great introduction that focuses on Ed Vodrazka, a lifeguard who lives near Torrey Pines Beach:

“Boat capsized. Twenty-five passengers, fully clothed, flailing in the surf. Hypothermia setting in.” Ed Vodrazka, 50, has a feeling he’ll be hearing that call come in over the radio any day now. As a lieutenant lifeguard, Vodrazka, who lives near Torrey Pines Beach, about 17 miles (27 km) north of San Diego, would be the first to respond. But would the victims — illegal immigrants from Mexico who pay $4,000 each to get to American shores — accept his help? “They’ve just spent their life savings to get to the free world,” he says. “They’re scared people who are desperate and may try to avoid being saved.”

To most, Torrey Pines evokes an image of Southern California splendor, an endless beach dwarfed by sea cliffs. But its seclusion has also made it the preferred landing spot for human smugglers, who often pack two dozen illegal immigrants onto fishing boats and hustle them into the country across dangerous nighttime seas. Since last July, four unmanned boats believed to have been piloted by smugglers have washed up onshore, with another intercepted nearby. All have been long, narrow panga-style fishing boats with outboard Yamaha motors. Food wrappers and life jackets littered the interiors.

The article also has this great slideshow of the San Diego High Seas Border Patrol.

WILL CARLESS

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