25 Arrested After Panga Boat Lands in RPV

The boat landed off Rancho Palos Verdes near Portugese Bend, according to Homeland Security officials.

Law-enforcement officials have detained 25 suspected illegal immigrants involved in the landing of a panga boat Monday morning at Rancho Palos Verdes, authorities said.

The 40-foot boat, called a "super panga" by officials at the scene, was seen at about 5 a.m., said Virginia Kice with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Nineteen males and six females were detained.

"As of 8:30 a.m., 25 persons had been detained—19 males and six females—and the search was continuing for other subjects in the vicinity who may have been associated with the landing," Kice said. No children have been detained.

"The 25 individuals are being interviewed by Homeland Security Investigations ... to develop further evidence related to the smuggling attempt and identify any suspects who were complicit in the scheme," Kice said.

Joseph Macias, the deputy special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in Long Beach, said once the interviews were completed, they would know more about the suspected smuggling attempt. He dismissed reports that at authorities were looking for at least two more people in connection with the panga boat landing.

"(The investigation) is still fluid," Macias said. "We still have a search going on in the area."

Macias did not believe that drugs were found aboard the panga boat.

Officials from Homeland Security Investigations, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, and Los Angeles Port Police are involved.

The law enforcement activity along Palos Verdes Drive South between Peppertree Drive and Schooner Drive—in addition to a collision possibly caused by distracted drivers—disrupted morning traffic. The public was advised to avoid the area and find alternative routes.

Homeland Security agents inspected two vans parked on Palos Verdes South. Authorities believe may have been intended as pickup vehicles.

Macias said officials are seeing more panga boat landings this year. During the fiscal year 2011-2012, the Homeland Security Investigations task force interdicted more than 200 panga boats. In October and November alone of this year, more than 40 interdictions have been reported.

—City News Service contributed to this report.


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