San Diego - CBP marine interdiction agents stopped two smuggling at sea attempts in the past few weeks, seizing a total of about 720 pounds of marijuana from boats that might otherwise blend into typical San Diego recreational boating traffic.
In the first incident at about 10 p.m. on Sunday, May 22, a disabled vessel called for towing assistance at sea from a local company. U.S. Customs and Border Protection marine interdiction agents on a CBP interceptor boat, together with U.S. Coast Guard personnel on a USCG patrol vessel located the disabled vessel as it was being towed, and followed it to the dock at the Shelter Island boat ramp.
At the boat ramp, CBP marine interdiction agents boarded the disabled vessel, a 1991 Bayliner personal recreational boat and detected that the boat had a false floor. A CBP officer with a narcotic detector dog was requested at the dock and responded to screen the boat. The canine alerted.
Underneath the false floor, CBP agents found about 165 pounds of marijuana in cellophane-wrapped bundles, worth an estimated $100,000.
CBP seized the vessel and narcotics, as well as the truck and trailer that were used to transport the boat. Agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Marine Task Force took custody of the two men on board, who will face criminal prosecution. The men are both Mexican nationals, age 28 and 36.
The second incident occurred on Wednesday, June 8. CBP marine interdiction agents out on patrol spotted a private recreational boat entering the U.S. from Mexican waters. The CBP agents were suspicious of the boat, a 2004 Bayliner, riding unusually low in the water, and followed it to the docks.
After the boat was docked at a temporary slip, CBP marine interdiction agents searched the vessel and interviewed the female driver, a 32-year-old U.S. citizen who had been the only person on board.
CBP marine interdiction agents found false compartments built into boat containing 189 packages of marijuana, weighing nearly 555 pounds, and worth an estimated $330,000.
CBP seized the vessel and narcotics. ICE agents from the Marine Task Force took custody of the woman, who will face criminal prosecution.
The San Diego Air and Marine Branch of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is a member of the Maritime Unified Command. The Maritime Unified Command is comprised of the U.S. Coast Guard, CBP Office of Air & Marine, CBP Office of Field Operations, CBP Border Patrol, ICE, as well as state and local law enforcement partners operating in the San Diego and Orange County maritime domain. The Maritime Unified Command utilizes the fusion of intelligence, planning and operations to target the threat of transnational crime along the southern California coastal border.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.