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 3,000 pounds of marijuana found on panga boat
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1 year ago

3,000 pounds of marijuana found on panga boat

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's deputies arrested a total of 11 people after discovering a panga boat containing 3,000 pounds of marijuana off the Gaviota coast early Wednesday.

The U.S. Coast Guard had been tracking the panga boat between San Nicholas Island and the Santa Barbara coastline and alerted Santa Barbara County law enforcement just after midnight.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office personnel, including three K9 units, along with officers from the California Highway Patrol, UC Santa Barbara Police Department, and State Parks responded to the area of Hollister Ranch Road and searched the coastline under the lights of a Coast Guard helicopter.

At about 2 a.m., eight people were arrested. Of those arrested, five gave Southern California addresses and three said they were from Mexico.

Then, shortly before 8 a.m., a sheriff's helicopter conducting a search spotted three additional suspects. Deputies took the second group into custody and took the suspects to a holding facility where they were released to Homeland Security Investigators.

1 year ago

Illegal immigrants paid $9K to panga smugglers

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Federal authorities say nearly two dozen illegal immigrants arrested this week paid smugglers up to $9,000 each for a seagoing trip on a panga boat to the United States.

Authorities intercepted the 27-foot, single-engine panga on Monday morning and arrested 25 people on a Los Angeles County beach near Rancho Palos Verdes. Panga fishing boats are often used by smugglers.

Four men are facing smuggling and conspiracy charges.

The Daily Breeze in Torrance says passengers told investigators they met smugglers in Tijuana and paid $3,000 to $9,000 for rides to the United States.

The passengers, most from Mexico, said the trip was tense because the smugglers argued over engine noise and twice threatened to throw one of the passengers overboard because he was overweight.

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1 year ago

Panga boat found near Gaviota State Beach

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department officials say they located a panga boat early Wednesday morning.

Officials tell us the boat was spotted west of Gaviota State Beach near Hollister Ranch.

The U.S. Coast Guard, California State Parks, U.S. Border Patrol, and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department are all on scene looking for suspects.

Some suspects are in custody.

Panga boats are typically used to smuggle drugs into the United States.

We'll bring you the latest information on this panga boat incident as soon as it becomes available to KSBY News.

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1 year ago

25 held from suspected panga boat on LA County beach

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Authorities have intercepted a suspected smuggling boat and arrested 25 people on a Los Angeles County beach.

U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Jerry Conlan says the panga boat was spotted just before dawn Monday and it came ashore at a Portuguese Bend beach near Rancho Palos Verdes.

Pangas are open hull fishing boats often used for smuggling drugs or people from Mexico.

The suspected illegal immigrants tried to hide but 25 were captured by 8:30 a.m. It's unclear if any of those arrested are smugglers.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies are among several law enforcement agencies searching the area.

Earlier this month, a U.S. Coast Guard chief petty officer was killed when his small boat was rammed by a panga off Santa Cruz Island.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

1 year ago

Memorial slated for LA-area Coast Guard member

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Coast Guard Base Los Angeles-Long Beach will hold a memorial for the executive petty officer of the cutter Halibut who died from injuries caused by a boat collision while investigating suspected smuggling activity in the Channel Islands.

The ceremony remembering Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne will be held Saturday afternoon at Reservation Point on Terminal Island.

The memorial will not be open to the public.

Horne was aboard a small boat deployed from the cutter to intercept a panga boat running without lights near Santa Cruz Island early Sunday.

Authorities say the panga rammed the Coast Guard boat, throwing Horne and another crewman into the ocean. A propeller struck Horne in the head. The panga was eventually stopped and two Mexican nationals were arrested and charged with killing Horne.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

1 year ago

Coast Guardsman fired gun to avoid fatal crash

SAN DIEGO (AP) - A criminal complaint says the Coast Guard fired several gunshots from an inflatable boat before it was slammed by another vessel, killing an officer.

The criminal complaint filed against two Mexican nationals aboard the suspect vessel disclosed the gunshots and other measures taken by the crew to avoid getting hit early Sunday near the Channel Islands, about 180 miles northwest of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III died from head trauma after being struck by a propeller.

Using an inflatable boat, Horne and his team came within about 20 yards of the suspect vessel at 1:20 a.m. The Coast Guard boat flashed its blue lights and the crew ordered the suspects to stop before the other vessel gunned its engine, knocking Horne and a colleague into the water.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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1 year ago

Coast Guard member dies in panga boat bust

"He's the best shipmate I've ever known, he was a friend, he was a big brother to us all, and he's absolutely irreplaceable."
Holding back tears, Coast Guard shipmates of Terrell Horne talk about their fallen comrade.
The Coast Guard member was killed in waters off the South Coast Sunday after alleged drug smugglers crashed their panga boat into a Coast Guard apprehension vessel.
The Coast Guard says Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, 34, died from a traumatic head injury when he was struck in the head by the propeller of the panga boat.
It happened Sunday morning near the Channel Islands on the Ventura-Santa Barbara county line.
They say the smugglers intentionally ran their boat into a small Coast Guard boat, at high speed.
Two Coast Guard members, including Horne, were thrown into the water.
This is the first run-in with smugglers this year where a law enforcement member has been killed.
"They've shown a willingness to take aggressive action against law enforcement officers, if they're willing to do that, they're also willing to do that to any civilian who might come across their activities," says Commander Jim Taylor of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office.
With the Central Coast now becoming a key target for drug smugglers, local law enforcement and federal agencies are teaming up.
"They're going to find a way to try and come here, you can't just turn a blind eye to it and you can't allow it to happen," says Taylor.
Airplanes, choppers, boats and law enforcement on foot converge on the Central Coast drug war.

"Typically some of the things that the deputies would look for would be suspicious vehicle traffic, large vehicles, moving vans," says Taylor.

Smugglers are also known to use RVs like the one that was used as a getaway in a recent bust where more than four thousand pounds of dope was found.
The sheriff's office also says they are increasing patrolling along the Northern Coast, an area where four panga boats have been found this year already.
"We've also secured a second ICE agent who will begin working with the sheriff's office at our narcotics unit in January," says Taylor.
But will all this come with a hefty price tag for local tax payers?
According to the sheriff's office, no. Commander Taylor says they have secured a federal grant in October that will pay for the increased enforcement efforts.
"It's the additional resources that the county simply cannot afford by itself and to have the commitment from the federal government, and now I think an even more increased commitment because of the problem, it's reassuring to us that we can manage this problem effectively," says Taylor.
The sheriff's office says the federal grant was awarded in October and will provide $50,000 a year.

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1 year ago

Coast Guard member killed after run-in with panga boat

A U.S. Coast Guard member is dead after officials say the vessel he was on was hit by a Mexican-style panga boat, throwing him and another member into the water.

It happened just before 2:30 Sunday morning near Santa Cruz Island.

Officials say a Coast Guard maritime patrol aircraft detected the panga boat, and sent the Coast Guard Cutter Halibut out to investigate.

They say the cutter then sent its small boat out, which was operating without any type of running lights.

They say when it approached the panga boat, it turned on its blue law enforcement light and the suspects' vessel sped toward the Coast Guard's smaller boat, hitting it before taking off.

Officials say the two Coast Guard members were thrown into the water after the crash, and were immediately picked up by the Coast Guard's boat.

Officials with the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office tell KSBY 34-year-old Terrell Horne III, 34 from Redondo Beach, was killed.

Coast Guard officials say although first aid was administered on Horne III, he was pronounced dead at the pier in Port Hueneme after suffering a traumatic head injury.

They say the other member suffered minor injuries.

Other Coast Guard members stopped the panga boat shortly after the incident, and took two people into custody.

The incident is under investigation.

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1 year ago

Three arrested, two on the run after panga boat found near Piedras Blancas Lighthouse

A third man has been arrested in connection with a panga boat that was found abandoned on the shore just north of Piedras Blancas Lighthouse on Tuesday.

A California Highway Patrol officer saw Jose Lopez Lopez, 44, on Tuesday just after 8:15 p.m. on Highway 1.

The CHP says Lopez initially gave a false name to the officer. He was arrested on suspicion of failing to provide identification as well as providing false identification.

He was arrested and booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail.

He was arrested because officers believed he was connected to the abandoned panga boat because of items he had on him.

Two men, Luis Osiel Gonzales, 23, and Juan Pedro Gonzales, 23, were arrested earlier in the day.

The search continues for two more men who were believed to have been involved with the panga boat.

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1 year ago

Sheriff's office identifies suspects in panga boat bust

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office has identified the two men taken into custody after the discovery of a panga boat off San Simeon early Tuesday as Luis Osiel Gonzalez, 23 [pictured], and Juan Pedro Gonzalez, also 23.

Luis Osiel Gonzalez is in custody on suspicion of felony obstruction/resisting a peace officer and battery on a peace officer.

Juan Pedro Gonzalez was arrested on suspicion of giving false identification to a peace officer and is currently on an immigration hold.

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1 year ago

Another panga boat found in same area as last three

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's deputies discovered a panga boat early this morning in the area of Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. That area is becoming synonomous with panga boats. This is the fourth to be found there in the last few months.

When deputies arrived, they saw five men near the boat. The men ran off, and after a short scuffle, one was taken into custody. Deputies caught up with another man and are still looking for the others.

About four miles north of Piedras Blancas Lighthouse, sheriff's deputies noticed an open gate leading to a remote beach area.

"When they arrived on site, they discovered five men in the field, the five men took off, the sheriff's deputies took off after them," says Tony Cipolla, public information officer for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office.

After a scuffle that left one deputy with minor injuries, two suspects were taken into custody.
Thats when deputies discovered the panga boat.

"No drugs were found at this time, but about thirty containers of fuel were found, we believe it may have been a supply boat that was helping out another panga boat," Cipolla said.

According to homeland security, that's not uncommon. Many times these types of boats will refuel at sea, and this may have been the vessel that brings that fuel to smugglers waiting for the right opportunity to come ashore.

Air support, K9 units and ground units were brought in from multiple agencies to search for the remaining men.

"This is becoming a real issue here on the Central Coast, the sheriff is very concerned about this because it impacts our resources at the sheriff's office and then you also have the criminal element," Cipolla said.

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1 year ago

Second suspect arrested after panga boat discovery

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's deputies have arrested a second suspect after the discovery of a panga boat off the coast of San Simeon early Tuesday.

One deputy received minor injuries after a scuffle broke out during the capture of the first suspect, the sheriff's office said.

Sheriff's deputies, Sheriff's K9 units, a CHP plane and a Coast Guard helicopter searched for three other men believed to have been on the boat.

No drugs were found, but investigators say the boat is consistent with narcotic smuggling operations. About 30 containers of fuel were found floating in the water next to the boat.

Watch KSBY News at 5 and 6 p.m. for more on this story.

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1 year ago

PHOTO: Panga boat found near Piedras Blancas lighthouse

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's deputies made one arrest after finding a panga boat near the Piedras Blancas lighthouse early Tuesday.

Deputies say one man was taken into custody but four others got away. No drugs were found on the boat.

Watch KSBY News at 5 and 6 p.m. for more on this story.

1 year ago

One suspect arrested, four on the run after panga boat found near Piedras Blancas Lighthouse

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's deputies are on scene of a panga boat found on the shore near Piedras Blancas Lighthouse, north of San Simeon.

It was discovered around 4:40am Tuesday when deputies found an open gate in a field. Upon further investigation, deputies spotted five men who took off running when deputies arrived.

One man was captured and arrested. Deputies are currently searching for the four men who fled.

The panga boat did not contain any drugs and is said to be 28 feet long with about 30 containers of fuel on board.

KSBY has a crew headed to the scene and will bring you the latest on this developing story.

1 year ago

SLO Co. Sheriff's Dept. finds panga boat near Cambria

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Deputies say they found a panga boat near Cambria.

They are still on scene and very little information is being released at this time.

They do tell KSBY News the boat was discovered early Tuesday morning around 4:30 a.m.

Panga boats are typically used to smuggle drugs.

Stay with KBSY News for more on this developing story.

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1 year ago

Drug wars hit Central Coast waters with no signs of letting up

The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Department of Homeland Security are analyzing evidence found in a panga boat they seized Wednesday near San Miguel Island, off the Santa Barbara County coast.

Two-thousand pounds of marijuana were seized. Panga boats are the newest tool for drug smugglers and they are almost impossible to stop.

They are low, open fishing boats that are popular in mexico. Drug smugglers are putting high-speed motors on them and moving drugs up the coast of California.

"They have unlimited resources, unlimited funds and it presents an ongoing challenge," says David Wales of U.S. Homeland Security.

"It's a boat that sits very low on the water, there are two very powerful motors on the back of it, it's filled with fuel and marijuana," says Commander Aaron Nix of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office.

"They're willing to go to just about any means, and that can lead to violence," says Wales.

In the last few years, Homeland Security and customs agents have seen a massive spike in drug smuggling on the Pacific Ocean.

"We've had about a four-fold increase in the seizure amounts from last year to this year."

Homeland Security says more than one hundred thousand pounds of marijuana have already been seized this year. The street value: $500 million.

Agents say the pangas usually take off from northern Baja, Mexico with multi-person crews. Most of the landings are on beaches along San Diego and Los Angeles counties.

"I kind of liken it to a balloon affect, as the pressure is applied else where they will move to avoid that pressure," says Wales.

Law enforcement pressure is now squeezing the drug trade north to the Central Coast.

"They're going to try and make landfall on a beach, and put their load on the beach where they have a waiting off load crew," says Wales.

With their low profiles, the pangas are hard to spot in open water. But as investigators find more boats on the beaches and make more arrests, they are learning how these types of operations work and are fighting back.

"Because of some of the successes we've had in interdicting these smuggling operations, they have been changing their tactics, and they have switched over to having pleasure boats rendezvous with these vessels and they will actually transfer loads at sea," says Wales.

"This is a billion dollar industry," says Wales, "and the people that operate these cartels live quite a lavish life style."

One of the main enforcers in the fight against smuggling is a ship called the Black Fin.

"She's a multi-mission maritime asset, so that means she does search and rescue, we do law enforcement and a variety of other tactical duties," says Lt. Tony Gregg.

Gregg says it's one of the most advanced boats in the Coast Guard.

"She's built for speed, she's also built for torque, so she's very capable at towing, she's very capable at topping out and chasing," says Gregg.

And she has to be. Panga boats are known to travel at speeds of over 40 miles per hour.

"Nobody wants to be caught," says Gregg. "And it's usually a high-speed chase, typically."

The Black Fin and her crew have a solid record against the boats. They've busted eight panga boats filled with marijuana and one with cocaine. For that they are awarded special commendations that are displayed on the side of the ship.

"The one there on the left is a cocaine bust, and then you can see the marijuana leaves there with a red X through them, each one of those represents a successful case that Black Fin has prosecuted," says Gregg.

Homeland Security and the Coast Guard co-ordinate the busts like military missions: air support uses advanced night vision cameras to spot smugglers under the cover of darkness.

Some battles are won, but the cartels might be winning the war, successfully landing at least one shipment a week on U.S. shores. That adds up to millions of dollars worth of drugs every month.

"As the coast guard gets a new weapon in this fight, a new tool or a new policy or new tactic to prosecute this mission, certainly the smugglers are adapting to that," says Gregg.

The Black Fin was actually the boat that boarded and detained the smugglers from Wednesday's bust, so it looks like they'll be adding one more commendation to the side of that boat.

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1 year ago

Panga boat intercepted off Santa Barbara County coast

Coast Guard and Customs and Border Control officers on Wednesday tracked and intercepted a panga boat that ran out of fuel in the waters just north of San Miguel Island. That's off the Santa Barbara County coast.

Officers say they detained three men who were onboard and confiscated 35 large bundles of marijuana. California Highway Patrol officers on the Central Coast were notified and stepped up shoreline patrols in the area.

1 year ago

Panga boat found near Piedras Blancas

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department says a panga boat was recovered in the surf just north of Piedras Blancas Friday morning, but there was no sign of any suspects or drugs.

Investigators found clothing and six gasoline containers near the boat. They say it appears the boat was used to transport marijuana. The boat was in the same location where panga boats have previously been discovered in San Simeon.

1 year ago

Update: San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office has 20 suspects in custody after a panga boat was found

San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office says they now have 20 suspects in custody after a panga boat was found off the coast of San Simeon. Initially, deputies believed there were 21 people involved but after investigating realized one suspect was not associated with the incident.

Sheriff's deputies and agents with State Parks and the Department of Fish and Game responded to the beach Thursday at 6:30 am. A California Highway Patrol plane and helicopter were also seen circling the area.

Deputies have confirmed 43 bales of marijuana were found on the boat. That's more than 3,000 pounds of drugs with an estimated street value of $4.5 million.

A witness said people on the beach, near the boat, were carrying the parcels to a motor home.

A white truck and a black sedan were also spotted and believed to be connected to the motor home.

Multiple traffic stops were held resulting in two suspects being arrested in the sedan and 12 suspects from the motor home.

After an extensive search with deputies and K-9 units multiple suspects were found hiding nearby in the brush.

In total, 20 suspects were taken into custody in connection.

Since the panga boat was found in such a remote location the CHP assisted in airlifted the marijuana off the beach using its helicopter.

The suspects are detained in the San Luis Obispo County Jail and will be transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angles on Friday.

1 year ago

Update: 21 suspects now in custody after panga boat found off the coast of San Simeon

The San Luis Obispo Sheriff Office says they now have 21 suspects in custody. A panga boat was spotted off the coast of San Simeon near the Piedras Blancas lighthouse at 6:30 Thursday morning.

Sheriff's deputies and agents with State Parks and the Department of Fish and Game responded to the beach. A California Highway Patrol plane and helicopter were also seen circling the area.

Deputies have confirmed more than 30 bales of marijuana was found on board the panga boat.

A witness said people on the beach, near the boat, were carrying the parcels to a motor home.

A white truck and a black sedan were also spotted and believed to be connected to the motor home.

Multiple traffic stops were held resulting in two suspects being arrested in the sedan and 12 suspects from the motor home.

After an extensive search with deputies and K-9 units multiple suspects were found hiding nearby in the brush.

In total, 21 suspects were taken into custody in connection.

Since the panga boat was found in such a remote location the CHP assisted in airlifted the marijuana off the beach using its helicopter.

Officials are still on scene investigating the incident.

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1 year ago

14 suspects arrested after panga boat found off the coast of San Simeon

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office received a call after a panga boat was spotted off the coast of San Simeon near the Piedras Blancas lighthouse at 6:30 this morning.

Sheriff's deputies and agents with State Parks and the Department of Fish and Game responded to the beach. A California Highway Patrol plane and helicopter were also seen circling the area.

Along with the panga boat, deputies said they found a large number of bales of what appears to be marijuana.

A witness said people on the beach, near the boat, were carrying the parcels to a motor home.

A white truck and a black sedan were also spotted and believed to be connected to the motor home.

Multiple traffic stops were held resulting in two suspects being arrested in the sedan and 12 suspects from the motor home.

Officials are still on scene investigating the incident.

1 year ago

Panga boat found off the coast of Santa Barbara

State Parks officials spotted a boat off the coast of Santa Barbara near El Capitan State Beach and Refugio State Beach at about 1:30 Thursday morning.

U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested 13 passengers, 4 of which were U.S. citizens, 8 were from Mexico and 1 was from El Salvador.

Approximately 5,000 pounds of marijuana was seized from the boat.

The Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are assisting in the investigation.

1 year ago

Panga boat found near El Capitan State Beach

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Deputies are helping State Parks investigate a panga boat found near El Capitan State Beach.

At least 10 people are in custody, and they are looking for others who have fled the area.

Right now, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department, Border Patrol, the Coast Guard, and the Highway Patrol are working on the incident.

There are reports that CHP is using a helicopter to look for packages in the water.

We'll bring you more information as it comes into our newsroom.

1 year ago

Smuggler gets 6 years for half-ton of pot in panga

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Mexican drug smuggler has been sentenced to six years in federal prison for bringing a half-ton of marijuana to the United States in a panga boat found west of Malibu.

Los Angeles prosecutors say 29-year-old Pedro Lopez-Rocha will be deported to Mexico after serving the sentence imposed on Monday.

The Ventura County Star (http://bit.ly/Q4itJE ) says Customs and Border Protection agents arrested Lopez-Rocha and two other Mexican men on Jan. 15 after the panga landed along Pacific Coast Highway in the Deer Creek area of Ventura County.

They were unloading more than 45 bales of marijuana.

Investigators say Lopez sent a text message to someone in Los Angeles notifying him that the panga from Ensenada was coming ashore.

The two codefendants were sentenced earlier to a year in prison.

1 year ago

6 caught off-loading drugs from panga boat on South Coast

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office says six people are facing drug charges after they were caught off-loading marijuana from a panga boat on the South Coast.

The joint ongoing investigation between the Santa Barbara Count Sheriff's Office Special Investigation Bureau Narcotics Unit, Special Enforcement Team SWAT, Ventura County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Bureau, California State Parks, and the California Highway Patrol culminated early Friday morning on El Capitan State Beach.

Detectives say Habel Herrera of Mexico, David Arredondo of Compton, Martin Guzman of Compton, Marco Rangel of Mexico, Mauricio Brito of Compton and Deiber Chavez of Los Angeles had around 1,400 pounds of marijuana with them.

The men were arrested for transportation and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail. Detectives say the drugs have a street value of $4.2 million.

1 year ago

Panga boat found beached near San Simeon

Investigators worked a good portion of the day to remove fuel and marijuana from a panga boat discovered in San Luis Obispo County.

Fish and Game wardens discovered the 35-foot boat about two miles north of Piedras Blancas near San Simeon. The boat was loaded with 55-gallon drums of fuel and around 20 one-hundred-pound bales of marijuana, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department.

A CHP helicopter helped remove the fuel while sheriff's deputies used ATVs to move the drugs from the boat.

It's not clear how many people were on the boat when it was beached, but deputies did find footprints in the sand. The sheriff's department also does not know why the boat was beached, but a spokesperson says it could have something to do with the high winds. The boat is in a remote location and will take some engineering to remove, so deputies hope to pull the boat from the beach late Thursday or Friday morning.

The boat had two outboard motors, a sheriff's department spokesperson says. Authorities say panga boats are often used to transport drugs because they can maneuver quickly. They've turned up all along the California coast, but this is the first time in recent history a panga boat has been discovered in San Luis Obispo County, according to the sheriff's department.

2 years ago

Panga boat spotted off the coast of Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office says a 30 foot long boat was found at six Wednesday morning on the shore south of Refugio Beach.

The sheriff's office says there was evidence the boat had been used to smuggle illicit drugs. Panga boats are often used to transport illegal immigrants and narcotics from Mexico to the United States.

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2 years ago

Panga boat found on the South Coast will be turned over to the federal government

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office says it will turn over a panga boat found near Montecito to the federal government.

The 30-foot, abandoned boat was spotted near Fernald Point Wednesday morning. The sheriff's office says no one was found during a search of the shoreline, but a number of life vests were found suggesting at least 20 people had been onboard the boat at one point.

Panga boats are commonly used by fisherman in developing countries, however, they have recently been connected to drug smuggling operations on the South Coast. At this point, it is not clear if the boat found on Wednesday was used in a drug smuggling operation.

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2 years ago

Panga boat spotted 200 yards off shore near Montecito

A 30-foot panga boat was spotted Wednesday morning 200 yard off shore near Montecito, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol searched the area and shoreline but did not find any people. They did, however, track down several life vests on shore, suggesting about 20 people may have been on board. Panga boats are commonly used for smuggling narcotics from Mexico to the United States.

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