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Migrant dies, others captured trying to swim around border fence into U.S.

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Migrant dies, others captured trying to swim around border fence into U.S.
The U.S.-Mexico border fence is seen where it extends into the Pacific Ocean at International Friendship Park in Imperial Beach, Calif. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Federal authorities said a woman died over the weekend as dozens of migrants in Mexico attempted to swim around a barrier on the southern U.S. border in Southern California.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said that the woman died early Saturday after she was found unresponsive by a border agent. The agent had responded to a call about dozens of migrants attempting to swim across the boundary from Tijuana into the United States near San Diego.

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"This is yet another example of the ruthless tactics smuggling organizations use to bolster their power and profits," San Diego Sector's Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke said in a statement. "We will work tirelessly to pursue and bring to justice those responsible for this tragedy."

Agents captured 25 men and 11 women. Thirteen were rescued from the water by the U.S. Coast Guard.

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The U.S.-Mexico border fence is seen on the beach at International Friendship Park in Imperial Beach, Calif., where the barrier extends into the Pacific Ocean. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

"All 36 persons were taken into custody and transported to a nearby Border Patrol station for processing," the CBP said, adding that border agents, Air and Marine Operations, the Coast Guard and California State Parks searched to locate others.

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CBP has warned of an increase in maritime smuggling off the coast of San Diego. In April, Heitke said the agency had seen "a dramatic increase" in such smuggling attempts, which he called "inherently dangerous."

"We have seen too many turn from risky to tragic as smugglers sacrifice the safety of those on board for the sake of profits," he said at the time.

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Days after he made the warning, three people died after their boat capsized off the coast and 29 people from the boat were found alive.

In August, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said maritime smuggling activity in Orange, Los Angeles and Ventura counties was increasing.

"Smuggling along the California coastline is inherently dangerous and criminal organizations are not concerned with public safety," ICE said then. "They see migrants and narcotics as simply cargo."

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