HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. - Within seconds of touching shoreline, a dozen foreign nationals jumped out of a small boat and ran into the streets of Huntington Beach, looking for a place to hide.
Investigators and medical personnel were called to a report of a Panga boat that washed ashore just after 2 p.m. Monday at Pacific Coast Highway, just north of Anderson Street.
"A couple of them wanted to come inside the door," a worker at a local shop told FOX 11. "They weren't speaking English but they asked for the back."
The shop owner said she could not hide them and told them they would have to move on. Eventually, some did -- down to a motel at the end of the block.
"I was in the office of the motel," said a guest who was talking to the manager at the time. "She said, 'Lock the door. There's a crime going on.'"
Within minutes, agents from a handful of agencies including Homeland Security and I.C.E. arrived and took a dozen people into custody, authorities said.
Many were also examined by paramedics in a nearby parking lot, however none required hospitalization.
Nine men and one woman were Chinese nationals, authorites said. Two Hispanic men were also taken into custody.
Homeland Security officials said they believe at least one of the Hispanic males is a smuggler.
"I would ask that any of your viewers see anyone out of place that they may call it in," said Assistant Special Agent Matt Rice, a spokesperson for Homeland Security.
Rice said it was possible there could be others from the boat that got away. He could not confirm where the boat came from, but said it did not cross a major body of water.
"You take into account the size of the vessel, the rations that are there, and the condition of the people on board, and assumptions can be made," he said.