The captain of the charter boat helped save the lives of 25 migrants adrift off the coast of San Diego for days without food or water, sharing the impact of the experience on him.
It comes as US customs and border protection officials say they have seen a record increase in the number of smugglers using sea routes to bring foreigners into the United States.
The US Border Patrol recently launched a maritime unit to patrol the waters off the coast of San Diego due to increased human trafficking, such as the May operation which left three dead and 27 injured when their panga broke after hitting the rocks. off Loma Point.
Captain Markus Medak did not witness this fatal event, but the one he and his crew encountered around 1 a.m. on October 22 shook him deeply.
“It was very surprising because we were off the beaten track,” said captain Markus Medak. “It’s pretty hard to be there in the right place to prevent something really tragic from happening and I think that would have been the end result.”
Medak said that on board his sport fishing charter, the New Lo-An, he saw someone in the distance waving a light so he came closer.
It was then that he and his crew discovered a panga with several people on board crying for water and gas.
Twenty-five migrants, including children, were on board the broken down boat that was supposed to hold only four people. She ran aground 90 miles off the coast of Point Loma.
Medak says leaders aboard the panga told him they had been adrift for three days with no food, water or life jacket.
“It didn’t seem like they cared too much about their passengers. Very different from the way I treat mine. It didn’t seem like security was paramount, ”Medak said.
In fiscal 2019, there were 194 maritime smuggling attempts that resulted in 660 arrests, according to CBP data.
The following year, smuggling attempts reached a record high of 309 and arrests more than doubled to over 1,200.
Although final figures have yet to be released for fiscal 2021, CBP says that as of September 1, there have already been 356 smuggling attempts and more than 1,800 arrests.
“I felt there was a lot of luck that we could find something and do something,” said Medak, who is grateful that the migrants he and his crew discovered were not among the over 25 people who have died in human trafficking attempts in the San Diego area.