Yesterday ten people were taken into custody following the predawn interdiction of a Mexican “panga” boat loaded with more than a ton of marijuana along the Ventura County coast north of Los Angeles.
Border Patrol agents responded; after being notify by the California National Guardsmen who initially spotted the vessel offshore; to the beach near Deer Creek road shortly after 2 a.m. They discovered the 27-foot boat along with numerous bales of marijuana totaling approximately 2,500 pounds. In addition to the marijuana, authorities also seized two vehicles located in the landing area believed to be linked to the smuggling scheme.
According to agents at the scene, four of those taken into custody arrived on board the boat. The remaining arrestees were found in the landing area. The ongoing probe is being spearheaded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). In addition to the U.S. Border Patrol and HSI, several other law enforcement agencies assisted with Wednesday morning’s enforcement action, including the U.S. Coast Guard and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.
In response to the escalating number of maritime smuggling incidents in the Los Angeles area, authorities have intensified efforts to target the illegal activity, expanding the use of marine patrols, land-based surveillance and collaboration with the Government of Mexico.
“This interdiction clearly shows our joint efforts to target this type of smuggling activity are having an impact,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for ICE HSI in Los Angeles. “Today’s enforcement action should send a strong message to the criminal organizations in Mexico responsible for these incidents in Southern California that we’ve got them in our cross-hairs.”