Illegal immigrants paid $9K to panga smugglers

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – Federal authorities say nearly two dozen illegal immigrants arrested this week paid smugglers up to $9,000 each for a seagoing trip on a panga boat to the United States.

Authorities intercepted the 27-foot, single-engine panga on Monday morning and arrested 25 people on a Los Angeles County beach near Rancho Palos Verdes. Panga fishing boats are often used by smugglers.

Four men are facing smuggling and conspiracy charges.

The Daily Breeze in Torrance says passengers told investigators they met smugglers in Tijuana and paid $3,000 to $9,000 for rides to the United States.

The passengers, most from Mexico, said the trip was tense because the smugglers argued over engine noise and twice threatened to throw one of the passengers overboard because he was overweight.

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