Deputy Interrupts Panga Boat Marijuana Smuggling Operation – 14 Suspects Arrested



A sheriff’s deputy patrolling along the coast north of Ventura disrupted a smuggling operation involving at least 14 people and approximately 2,000 pounds of marijuana.

The deputy drove up to a remote area as suspects were loading large bales of marijuana into a recreational vehicle. The cargo had already been off loaded from a panga boat that had been steered onto the sand from the ocean. The suspects scattered as soon as they saw the patrol vehicle. The deputy requested assistance and soon had additional deputies and officers from a variety of local, state, and federal agencies assisting in the search for the smugglers.

After several hours of searching by law enforcement officers on the ground, in two helicopters, and with K-9’s, 14 suspects were located and arrested. Of the fourteen, all were men, and one was a male juvenile. Roughly half the group is claiming United States citizenship, while the rest are undocumented.

The RV containing the marijuana was seized, along with the boat. The investigation is being handled by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, and the case will be presented to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office for the filing of criminal charges.

ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents are continuing to investigate the case for possible federal violations.

People living along the coast and visiting our beaches need to realize that it is an international border. Anyone witnessing suspicious activity involving boats coming ashore with people engaging in human trafficking or narcotics smuggling should notify authorities immediately.

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