Coast Guard interdicts suspected drug smugglers off Southern California

Published on March 10th, 2014

The Coast Guard and Customs & Border Protection worked together to interdict a panga vessel suspected of smuggling narcotics near Santa Rosa Island, Calif., late Monday morning, March 10.

Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach received a report of a suspicious vessel from a Good Samaritan and launched a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter to investigate from Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles, nearly 100 miles away.

A 45-foot Response Boat Medium from Coast Guard Station Channel Islands Harbor was dispatched and CBP Office of Air and Marine launched a Black Hawk helicopter and a fixed-wing Multi-role Enforcement aircraft. Coast Guard Station Los Angeles-Long Beach also dispatched a 45 RBM to assist.

Leveraging their new 45 RBM and its advanced capabilities, the Channel Islands Harbor boat crew was able to successfully interdict the vessel and take the two suspects onboard into custody.

With the help of CBP Office of Air and Marine and Coast Guard spotters from the air, the Channel Islands Harbor boat crew was also able to recover approximately 50 bales of suspected marijuana.

Most law enforcement agencies estimate the street value of a pound of marijuana to be between $2,000 and $4,000, giving the bale of pot an estimated value of more than $140,000. The estimated value of 50 bales would then be in excess of $7 million.

The two suspects will be turned over to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations for processing and presentation to the U.S. Attorney’s office for federal prosecution.

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