Scuba Scooter goes beyond the Border

Smart Mexicans? You bet. Smart scuba Mexican Aliens? Lol… you bet… well it seems a wetsuit-clad man and a teenager were arrested in Imperial Beach Feb. 3 after allegedly swimming around the U.S./Mexico international border with the aid of scuba diver propulsion devices, commonly called “scuba scooters.”

The men became the object of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) attention at approximately 8:45 p.m., when an Office of Air and Marine helicopter reportedly spotted them walking north along the beach in the vicinity of Seacoast Drive, with scuba scooters in hand. When land-based Border Patrol agents approached, the duo attempted to conceal themselves by lying down and covering themselves with sand, according to agents.

Border Patrol field officers interviewed the individuals and said the 38-year-old and 16-year-old were Mexican nationals who allegedly used the devices to illegally enter the United States. Agents transported them to a local Border Patrol station for fingerprinting, identification and probable deportation.

The diver propulsion devices were confiscated. The men did not have scuba gear, so agents suspect they did not attempt the crossing underwater.

Using scuba scooters to help swim around the border fence may seem a bit absurd. But Mexico’s northern border smuggling is reportedly controlled by drug cartels that typically charge prospective illegal immigrants between $1,500 and $4,000 to cross. Once across the border, human smugglers have been known to hold imprison immigrants in safe houses while they extort money from relatives.

At $700, an entry-level scuba scooter might seem to be an attractive alternative. Typically, a scuba scooter will pull a swimmer or diver along at 3-4 mph for at least an hour — plenty of time to pull a swimmer around the partly submerged fence between Tijuana and Imperial Beach.

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