Byline: The Log Staff
SAN DIEGO — Agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine (OAM) and the U.S. Border Patrol intercepted a suspected drug-smuggling boat on the beach at Del Mar early the morning of Nov. 14. Hundreds of pounds of marijuana were recovered, and shore-based pickup crews were arrested.
According to official reports, Border Patrol agents detected a panga at approximately 3 a.m., off the coast of Del Mar. A Customs and Border Protection OAM Blackhawk helicopter was deployed to assist Border Patrol agents in the area. Marine Interdiction Agents on an OAM vessel were sent to intercept the panga.
The panga came ashore about an hour later, in the vicinity of Seventh Street in Del Mar. OAM deployed a tactical team member from the helicopter and apprehended one of the panga operators, according to official reports. Another panga operator was also later found in the area and arrested.
Marine Interdiction Agents discovered the panga was loaded with 41 bundles of marijuana. The marijuana weighed a total of 878 pounds, with an estimated street value of $526,000, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Border Patrol agents searched the area. They located one box truck and one other vehicle associated with this smuggling event, Customs and Border Protection reported.
A total of 10 individuals were taken into custody and were transported to a Border Patrol station for processing. The drugs, panga and two vehicles were turned over to OAM. At press time, the incident was being investigated by agents from the San Diego Marine Task Force.
Customs and Border Protection works in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies on a federal, state and local level, to address maritime threats along with Southern California coast. These agencies form Regional Coordinating Mechanisms (ReCoMs) that are designed to increase homeland security by eliminating transnational crime along the coast.
Boaters with any information about maritime smuggling or suspicious activity along the coast are asked to contact the Joint Harbor Operations Center at (800) 854-9834.