San Diego - U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested three male Mexican nationals Thursday for attempting to smuggle more than 700 pounds of marijuana into the United States aboard an open-hulled, panga-style boat.
At approximately 8 a.m., the U.S. Border Patrol and other Maritime Unified Command partners were notified of a suspicious boat traveling north along the San Diego County coastline near Camp Pendleton. Border Patrol agents on land and Oceanside Harbor Police officers in the water responded to the scene and observed the boat, which quickly came ashore on Red Beach. In addition, Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine directed an AS-350 aircraft to the scene and provided aerial surveillance during the incident.
Border Patrol agents conducted a search of the area and apprehended three men who had run from the beached boat. Agents subsequently questioned them and determined they were illegally present in the country. A search of the panga revealed 11 fuel containers, three life vests, and 32 bundles of marijuana with a total weight of 741 pounds and an estimated street value of $444,600.
The three Mexican nationals, drugs, and boat were turned over to the Homeland Security Investigations Marine Task Force for further investigation.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection maintains a strong enforcement posture along the coastal borders to detect and apprehend smugglers of humans, drugs and other contraband and is a member agency of the Maritime Unified Command. The MUC is a Department of Homeland Security coordinated effort and is comprised of local, state and federal law enforcement partners operating in the San Diego and Orange County maritime domain. The MUC utilizes the fusion of intelligence, planning and operations to target the threat of transnational crime along the Southern California coastal border. To report suspicious maritime activity, call 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.