One woman died and 36 people were detained after as many as 70 people tried to swim around a fence that juts into the Pacific Ocean at the border of the United States and Mexico, the authorities said on Saturday.
The group attempted to swim from Tijuana into Border Field State Park in San Diego late Friday evening, the Border Patrol’s parent agency, Customs and Border Protection, said in a statement.
Border Patrol agents called paramedics after discovering an unresponsive woman who was believed to have been part of the group of swimmers. Agents and emergency medical responders provided aid, but the woman was declared dead around 12:30 a.m., according to the statement.
Agents took 36 Mexican nationals into custody, including 25 men and 11 women. They were brought to a nearby Border Patrol station.
Some of those detained had been pulled from the ocean. The Coast Guard, which dispatched two cutters and a search helicopter, took 13 people from the water and handed them over to the Border Patrol, said Adam Stanton, a Coast Guard spokesman.
The section of border fence that extends about 300 feet into the Pacific Ocean is one of the most closely watched parts of the 1,900-mile border. While individuals and small groups of swimmers occasionally make the crossing, mass attempts are rarer.
In the last 12 months, the United States has recorded the most illegal border crossings since record-keeping began in 1960. The surge was driven in part by the widespread economic harm caused by the pandemic. The migrants came from around the world, but more were from Mexico than from any other country.
Crossings at sea, often on small fishing boats or pleasure craft, have also increased as sensors and barriers have become more prevalent on land, and as plummeting tourism has led some boat operators to turn to smuggling.