SAN DIEGO — A body that was discovered on a popular beach Monday could be the second victim of a weekend smuggling attempt at sea, authorities said.

Beachgoers on a Monday morning stroll through the city’s Ocean Beach community spotted the body of a fully clothed man who first responders say may have been on board a boat that was capsized nearby Saturday night, city spokesman Jose Ysea said.

Authorities are still investigating, he said, but if the body is linked to the capsized boat, it would be the second fatality from the accident.

Early Sunday, about an hour after responding to an overturned boat, rescuers were notified by a few fishermen that they had seen a body floating in nearby waves, San Diego Lifeguard Services Lt. Rick Stell said.

That body washed ashore and the person was pronounced dead at the scene, Stell said.

Three people were rescued as they struggled in waves as high as 8ft, the lieutenant said. Three or four others reached the dry sand and fled, he said.

Authorities described the capsized vessel as a typical “panga”, a small wooden and aluminum craft intended for fishing but frequently used by smugglers based in Mexico, 12 miles by sea from Ocean Beach.

Hours after the rescue and recovery on Sunday, US Customs and Border Protection officials stopped a 24-foot boat about three miles off the coast of San Diego and discovered 15 people believed to be undocumented migrants. papers, an agency spokesperson said.

Two other boats with more than 50 suspected migrants were stopped off San Diego later in the day, CBP said.

The migrants were handed over to the US Border Patrol, he added.

Customs officers saw last year “record levels” of maritime smuggling along the southern California coast.

“Maritime smuggling is extremely dangerous,” said Reif Smith, CBP’s deputy director of offshore operations. NBC San Diego. “The ocean is unforgiving. Any mistake on the water, anything, can result in loss of life.”

Experts believe that drug cartels and other traffickers have increasingly dependent on sea routes as the pandemic severely restricted border crossings, like those in San Diego, where drugs and migrants once lurked in plain sight among million annual crosses.

Last week, it was reported that the pilot of a smuggling boat that ran aground on a rocky shore in San Diego last year, killing three of its passengers, pleaded guilty to human trafficking causing death.

Federal prosecutors say defendant Antonio Hurtado admitted to taking drugs during the trip, passing out, then abandoning all 32 people on board to reach shore on May 2, 2021.