Marbilia Gabriel Mejia, 18

San Diego, California
January 16, 2010

Agencies: U.S. Customs and Border Protection - US

Cause of death: Drowning

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Last updated: over 3 years ago


At 4 a.m. on Jan. 16, 2010, a fishing boat carrying Marbilia Gabriel Mejia and more than a dozen Mexicans capsized in the Pacific Ocean, barely 50 yards off shore from U.S. soil. Marbilia and a Mexican man who tried to rescue her were critically injured.

Authorities discovered Marbilia washed up on shore near Torrey Pines State Beach in San Diego. She was cold and unresponsive. Doctors declared her brain-dead and put her on mechanical life support. The next day, after being taken off life support, Marbilia died. Her organs were donated.

Marbilia’s death became a critical point for immigration enforcement officials who had struggled for years to stem the growing tide of human smuggling, particularly on fishing boats, from Mexico to Southern California.

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