SAN DIEGO – A U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine (OAM) crew intercepted a suspect vessel near Santa Rosa Island in California on February 17. The vessel was initially detected and tracked by a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) C-130 aircrew.
The combined efforts resulted in the arrest of three suspects and the seizure of 2,585 pounds of marijuana.
The USCG requested assistance from OAM after it detected a two-engine panga vessel loaded with suspected contraband and traveling north without navigational lights at around 1:20 a.m. A San Diego-based Midnight Express interceptor crew launched and pre-positioned itself north of the projected transit route. When the suspect vessel approached, Marine Interdiction Agents successfully intercepted, boarded and seized the panga.
“The collaborative efforts of our DHS partners have proven to be extremely effective in conducting significant intercepts and seizures,” said Jeremy Thompson, Director, Marine Operations at the San Diego Air and Marine Branch.
During the event, an OAM San Diego-based Multi-Role Enforcement aircraft and USCG C-130 aircraft flew overhead and the aircrews conducted surveillance, providing cover to marine agents.
OAM marine agents transported the panga and turned over the subjects and contraband to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations agents for processing.