Ten suspected illegal immigrants were arrested Wednesday near Pacific Coast Highway after being dropped off by a smuggling boat along the coast northwest of Malibu, U.S. authorities said.
The group was spotted about 4:30 a.m. just up the coast from the Los Angeles-Ventura county line, said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A woman with a broken nose and a man with a broken leg were hospitalized, Kice said.
The maritime smuggling attempt marks one of the northernmost forays by traffickers as they try to evade increased enforcement in San Diego County, where such activity has surged dramatically in recent years.
Last year, 867 illegal immigrants and smugglers were arrested at sea or along the California coast, more than double the number in 2009. In recent months authorities have noticed an increase in smuggling-boat landings in Orange County, and they believe traffickers are now eyeing points farther north.
In March, an empty 30-foot motorboat that authorities believe was used to transport people or drugs was found off the Malibu coast. Officials have not found the vessel that may have carried the immigrants arrested Wednesday.
The pilots of smuggling boats frequently evade arrest by speeding back to Mexican waters. The boats leave from Baja California beaches, often crowded with as many as 25 immigrants who pay as much as $6,000 each for the trip.