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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 12:44 am | Fog/Mist 47º


15 Suspected Illegal Immigrants Found Stranded on Santa Cruz Island

One of the group reportedly calls authorities for help after two nights with no food or water

Tipped by a cell-phone call, 15 suspected illegal immigrants were taken into custody by authorities Sunday afternoon on Santa Cruz Island.

According to Channel Islands National Park spokeswoman Yvonne Menard, U.S. Coast Guard personnel and National Park Service rangers discovered the group after one of the men called authorities early Sunday and reported that they were stranded on an island where they had been dropped off Friday.

Menard said the relayed cell-phone call was received at the Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach command center, which dispatched the Santa Barbara-based cutter Blackfin and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Los Angeles. The first-light search was unsuccessful, she said.

The Coast Guard then issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast asking vessels in the vicinity of Santa Cruz Island to contact authorities immediately if they were approached by anyone from the island seeking assistance, Menard said.

Following the broadcast, Menard said a boat reported that it was with four people who had requested help. Upon arrival, Coast Guard and park service personnel discovered there were 15 suspected illegal immigrants instead of the four reported initially.

All 15 people were placed aboard the Blackfin and taken to Santa Barbara, where they were turned over to the Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol, Santa Barbara police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

Authorities said the group — 14 men and one woman, all reportedly Mexican nationals — was in good condition, but had no food or water.

The incident remains under investigation.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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