Updated 9:20 p.m. Wednesday.
Two undocumented immigrants died attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border last night and Tuesday morning, a Border Patrol official said.
Shortly before 11 p.m. Tuesday, Border Patrol personnel spotted three men swimming to the north near the western end of the international security fence at the border, according to the federal agency and San Diego police.
USBP officers went to the area and took two men suspected of illegally
crossing the border into custody as they came out of the water, said USBP spokesman Roldofo Zuniga.
When the third man failed to appear, members of the Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue Team entered the surf to look for him, he said.
About an hour later, the personnel found the missing 43-year-old man floating dead about an eighth of a mile offshore. They recovered the body and turned it over to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office.
Cause-of-death rulings for both men, whose identities were not
immediately confirmed, were on hold pending completion of postmortem exams.
All 18 of the people involved in the pair of ill-fated border crossings turned out to be Mexican nationals in the United States illegally, Zuniga said.
Due to recent upswings in the number of such dangerous attempts to illegally enter the United States by sea, federal authorities are working to increase punishments for the crime, the spokesman noted.
"Our number-one goal here is to discourage deaths," he said.
The responsible smugglers have not been identified but an investigation is ongoing, said Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Michael Jiminez. If a suspect is identified, the Border Patrol and U.S. Attorney may press charges.
Apprehensions of people trying to cross have nearly tripled since Oct. 2008, from 230 to 615, while seizures of watercrafts have increased from 33 to 215.
In the second incident around 2:30 a.m. in Pacific Beach, the U.S. Border Patrol got a report of a 16- to 18-foot fishing boat with more than a dozen people aboard coming to shore north of Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach, Zuniga said.
Agents went to the area and detained 13 suspected undocumented
immigrants. The personnel then tracked down the beached motorboat and found two people there, one of them unconscious and unresponsive. Medics pronounced that man dead at the scene. 11 of the others were taken to a hospital for evaluations.
It is unclear how long the group of nine men and six women had been in the water, Zuniga said.