The U.S. Coast Guard found the 40-foot, open-hulled boat off the Palos Verdes Peninsula and were searching for the undocumented immigrants and their smugglers, some of whom were waiting in two vans on a local road, NBC-TV, Los Angeles, reported.
"They swarmed the hill," Tom Redfield, a resident of the exclusive community of Portuguese Bend, told the TV station. "They caught the majority of them right here and then we kept finding them all over the place. There's so many places to hide."
In October and November, authorities in Southern California detected 44 instances of maritime smuggling, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice said.
Earlier this year, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown wrote a letter to Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., expressing concern about the people and contraband that may be on such large, outboard-motor-powered boats known as "pangas."
"We have great concern that other items could be smuggled ... including deadly weapons and terrorists," Brown wrote.