California officials reported three people died and more than a dozen others were injured when an alleged smuggling boat broke apart on Sunday near Cabrillo National Monument at California’s Point Loma.

Smuggling Operation

Authorities received initial reports shortly before 10:00 a.m. and quickly conducted a large-scale emergency response. The agencies involved included the U.S. Coast Guard, and state and local agencies as soon as officials discovered the extent of the incident.

Officials said the 40-foot boat was already destroyed by massive waves when rescue boats arrived at the scene. San Diego Fire-Rescue Lifeguard Lieutenant Rick Romero said they rescued several people from the water and conducted life-saving procedures on others when they got to the beach.

Authorities said there were about 30 people aboard the ship when it sank who had no social distancing or sufficient safety equipment. “Every indication from our perspective is that this was a smuggling vessel, used to smuggle immigrants into the United States illegally,” Border Patrol Agent Jeff Stephenson said, Reuters reported.

Stephenson said the nationality of the passengers was not immediately distinguishable and that they took the captain into custody and is being interviewed by investigators. Authorities said there have been many more maritime smuggling operations in the last few years. They said the vessel used on Sunday was much bigger compared to other smuggling boats.