One woman drowned while trying to swim around the border fence from Tijuana to San Diego on Friday night, while 13 other Mexican migrants were pulled from the water and 23 others were detained, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement. The drowned woman and 36 detained Mexicans were part of a group of up to 70 trying to cross into the U.S. at Border Fields State Park late Friday, and it isn't clear if the others turned back or are missing.
Mexico and the U.S. are separated at Border Fields State Park by a 12-foot-high metal fence that extends 300 feet into the ocean. Some of the sections are topped by razor wire, and the ocean off the park is treacherous for swimmers. U.S. Border Patrol was alerted to a group attempting to reach the San Diego beach at about 11:30 p.m. on Friday, and when they arrived they found and tried to resuscitate the woman. Medical response teams pronounced her dead early Saturday. The U.S. Coast Guard, which joined state and federal agencies in the search for migrants, pulled the 13 people out of the water.
Officials blamed human smugglers for the death. "This is yet another example of the ruthless tactics smuggling organizations use to bolster their power and profits," San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke said in a statement. "We will work tirelessly to pursue and bring to justice those responsible for this tragedy."
Border agents have seen more migrants trying to cross into the U.S. by water, often on rickety fishing boats, amid a larger surge of migrants being apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border. A Honduran woman died in the same stretch of ocean in March. Border Patrol reports finding 557 deceased migrants in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, up from 254 in the previous fiscal year. More migrants have died and been recovered by state and local agencies.