Panga pursuit

With an increase in maritime smuggling over the past few years off the coast of California, halting the flow of illegal drugs into the country can seem like a daunting task. Illicit drugs from the U.S.-Mexico border region are being transferred by sea as far north as Santa Barbara County, Calif. However, Coast Guard crews and their partner agencies are undeterred, meeting the challenges of drug interdiction head on.

The vigilance and dedication of law enforcement crews was seen firsthand off the coast of San Diego as U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection crews worked together to disrupt a drug smuggling attempt approximately 90 miles southwest of San Diego.

After a CBP aircraft detected the panga with two people aboard, an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Sector San Diego, a 45-foot response boat from Station San Diego and the patrol boat Coast Guard Cutter Haddock were dispatched to intercept the panga.

Crewmembers aboard Coast Guard Cutter Haddock tie down bales of marijuana seized during a smuggling interdiction 90 miles southwest of San Diego. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Crewmembers aboard Coast Guard Cutter Haddock tie down bales of marijuana seized during a smuggling interdiction 90 miles southwest of San Diego. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Jayhawk crew arrived on scene and relieved the CBP aircrew from monitoring the panga. While the response boat crew arrived on scene and pursued the panga, which refused to stop. The boat crew used warning shots and disabling fire to stop the smugglers.

Upon interdicting the panga, two suspected smugglers, 31 bales of marijuana and fuel containers were transferred to Haddock. As the panga was being towed to San Diego it began to take on water and was subsequently sunk to prevent it from being a hazard to navigation.

The suspects and bales were turned over to the Maritime Task Force for further prosecution.

This seizure, and others like it, is the result of effective intelligence, solid partnerships and the continued vigilance of Coast Guard patrols. The Coast Guard and its partner agencies remain on watch in Southern California and around the nation to combat the flow of illegal drugs to the United States.

You can watch video of the interdiction above or at our YouTube channel.

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