SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The Mexican Consulate says seven of the eight migrants who died during a maritime smuggling event over the weekend were from Mexico.
The accident happened in the water off La Jolla, California, about 10 minutes north of San Diego.
Late Saturday, a woman dialed 9-1-1 and told the dispatcher, in Spanish, she had been on one of two boats that had capsized in the surf.
She reportedly claimed five people were in one vessel with 15 in the other.
The woman who made the call vanished according to lifeguards. It’s believed she left the area along with several others before first responders arrived.
But the spot where she made the emergency call was used to pinpoint where the others might be.
San Diego lifeguards said they walked the beach and in the shallow surf until they located the bodies of the eight deceased migrants.
They spend all night and most of Sunday looking for other victims or possible survivors, but no one else was found.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported very poor visibility in the area due to fog and rain, which hampered search efforts.
“It’s a great tragedy with what happened,” said Pastor Albert Rivera, head of the AGAPE shelter in Tijuana. “These are families we know are lost in the sea, but there’s a lot more that are lost in the sea that we don’t have any knowledge of.”
Rivera told Border Report he often tells migrants not to risk their lives trying to cross the border whether on land or sea.
“The problem we have is people get desperate. It’s not worth it to hire a coyote a human trafficker to pass you over. That’s how we lost these families,” said Rivera.
According to Rivera, he’s afraid more people will die in the future as smugglers continue to entice migrants.
“It’s not stopping, human smuggling. We tell migrants you must be patient,. It’s not worth it to lose a family member.”
Instead, Rivera tells migrants to pursue appointments on the CBP One app, which allows asylum seekers to set up interviews at the border and begin their asylum cases.
“Don’t risk it. It’s not worth it. There’s a system, a safe system, a secure system, but you must be patient.”
Two days after the accident that claimed the lives of eight migrants, Rivera wasn’t the only one warning migrants not to put their fate in the hands of smugglers.
“This is a perfect example of how criminal organizations capitalize on smuggling,” said Border Patrol Agent Angel Moreno. “Migrants have reported that more often than not, they won’t get life jackets from the smugglers. That’s why we always tell the migrants not to enter the country via these means.”
According to Moreno, migrants if they insist, are advised to try and seek entrance through the U.S. at a port of entry.
“At the Border Patrol, we encourage access through a port of entry to enter or at the very least attempt to enter the United States at those ports.”
In the meantime, the Mexican Consulate in San Diego says it is working to identify the victims with corresponding authorities.
In a statement, the consulate wrote “based on the identifications that some of them carried, it is presumed that seven of them were nationals of Mexico.”