SAN DIEGO—Agents with Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM) intercepted maritime vessels not usually seen smuggling drugs along the Calif., coast. Four kayaks were stopped at sea early this morning by OAM Interdiction Agents that netted hundreds of pounds of marijuana resulting in four arrests.
U.S. Border Patrol agents had detected the four kayaks enter U.S. waters at approximately 4:00 a.m., off the coast of Imperial Beach. Agents notified the Joint Harbor Operational Center (JHOC), located at U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego, of the intrusion. JHOC operators vectored an OAM AS350 ASTAR helicopter crew and an OAM Secure-Around-Flotation-Equipped (SAFE) boat crew to intercept the kayaks.
The OAM air and marine assets approached the four kayaks. The kayakers jumped out of their kayaks and attempted to swim ashore. The AS350 Air Interdiction Agents illuminated the swimmers with their spotlight allowing the SAFE boat Marine Interdiction Agents to more easily locate them in the dark waters. By 5:00 a.m., all kayakers were apprehended and arrested.
Marine Interdiction Agents discovered the kayaks were loaded with marijuana. A total of 99 bundles of marijuana were pulled from the kayaks. The marijuana weighed a total of 297 pounds with an estimated street value of $178,200.
William Raymond, OAM’s director of air and marine operations said, “While a kayak is an unusual mode of transporting drugs in the maritime environment, as opposed to the more familiar panga, we also see the use of surfboards and jet skis. No matter what transnational criminal organizations choose to use, CBP remains vigilant in protecting our coastline.”
The four suspected drug smugglers were turned over to the San Diego Maritime Task Force. The drugs and kayaks were seized by the OAM.
CBP works in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies on a federal, state and local level to address the maritime threat along with Southern California coast. These agencies form Regional Coordinating Mechanisms (ReCoMs) which increase homeland security by eliminating transnational crime along the coast.
If you have information about maritime smuggling or suspicious activity along the coast of California, please contact the Joint Harbor Operations Center at 1-800-854-9834.
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.