Officials Suspect The Boat That Overturned Off California Coast Was Smuggling Migrants

 Officials Suspect The Boat That Overturned Off California Coast Was Smuggling Migrants

Topline

Three people are dead and more than two dozen were transported to local hospitals after a ship suspected of smuggling migrants into the U.S. capsized off the coast of San Diego Sunday morning, according to emergency services.

Key Facts

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department responded to a call of an overturned boat with people onboard near the Cabrillo Monument, a statue located close to the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula.

Of those, three victims died on the scene and 27 others were injured and taken to local hospitals, where their conditions remain unclear. 

The boat, a 40 foot cabin cruiser, had been broken apart by the time first responders arrived on the scene, authorities said during a Sunday afternoon press conference.

Officials said evidence points to the boat being part of an illegal human smuggling operation, and while authorities have not confirmed the nationality of the people involved, they have identified a man they believe is a smuggler and was operating the ship.

Units are still searching the area by boat and air, according to SDFD, and Cabrillo National Monument said it would close off access to its tide pools until further notice. 

Key Background

Local firefighters and lifeguards were assisted at the scene by other agencies like Federal Fire, the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection.