U.S. immigration authorities detained 14 undocumented immigrants in a small boat that was intercepted off the Southern California coast, San Diego lifeguard Lt. Andy Lerum said Tuesday.

A citizen spotted the boat in distress around 6:15 a.m. Tuesday in the waters off Sunset Cliffs.

By the time the lifeguards reached the boat, some of the migrants had jumped in the water, but the lifeguards put them back on the vessel for safety reasons, the Border Patrol said in a statement.

The lifeguards towed the damaged boat to a dock in Mission Bay, where Customs and Border Protection agents were waiting to take the migrants into custody.

Migrant smugglers have been resorting to the sea route given the increase in security along the land border.

Boats with undocumented immigrants usually set out from the coast of the Mexican state of Baja California with the hope of putting ashore in San Diego County somewhere south of the U.S. Marine base at Camp Pendleton, which has elaborate coastal security measures.