The U.S. Coast Guard interdicted a panga boat with 201 bales of marijuana and two suspected smugglers aboard approximately 140 miles southwest of San Diego, Monday evening.
After a Sacramento-based Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules patrol aircraft detected the 30-foot boat around 3:40 p.m., the Coast Guard Cutter Active launched an interceptor boat to investigate.
A brief chase ended after the Active’s boat crew used disabling gunfire on the vessel’s engines. The panga, suspects and contraband were transferred to the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Sea Otter crew and taken to San Diego.
In addition to the HC-130, a Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine Multi-role Enforcement Aircraft provided aerial support.
The suspects and drugs were turned over to the San Diego Marine Task Force, which includes federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
“The Coast Guard and our dedicated federal, state and local partners use every officer, agent, cutter, boat, aircraft, vehicle and piece of equipment at our disposal to stop smugglers, save lives, and provide the American people the protection they expect and deserve,” said Rear Adm. Karl Schultz, 11th Coast Guard District commander. “This case is a great example of how we are working together every day to secure the California coastal region and beyond.”
The interdiction occurred on the one-year anniversary of the death of Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne who was killed in the line of duty when the Coast Guard boat he was aboard was struck by a panga-style vessel suspected of illicit activities near Santa Cruz Island, Calif.
The Active is a 210-foot cutter based in Port Angeles, Wash. The Sea Otter is based in San Diego.
Counter-smuggling and law enforcement efforts in the San Diego area are coordinated through a Regional Coordinating Mechanism comprised of the U.S. Coast Guard, CBP’s Office of Air and Marine, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and state and local law enforcement partners. The ReCoM utilizes the fusion of intelligence, planning and operations to target the threat of transnational crime along the coastal border.
Press Release, December 5, 2013; Image: USCG