MALIBU, CALIF.—U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and agents arrested three men early Saturday morning following the seizure of a Mexican panga-style boat and more than one and a quarter tons of marijuana along the Malibu coast.
California National Guardsmen, working in support of CBP coastal operations, initially spotted the vessel offshore and relayed the information to law enforcement officers in the area. CBP officers and agents, and Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies responded to Point Dume State Beach shortly after midnight, where they discovered the boat and numerous bales of marijuana totaling 2,575 pounds with an estimated street value of $1,287,500.
The three men, who had illegally entered the United States on board the boat, were taken into custody and turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation.
In addition to CBP, the U.S. Coast Guard, HSI, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and several other law enforcement agencies assisted with Saturday morning's enforcement action.
As the Department of Homeland Security has increased coastal border security in Southern California, transnational criminal organizations have shifted their smuggling tactics farther north into Los Angeles and Ventura counties. As a result, CBP and its partners have intensified efforts to target the illegal activity, expanding the use of marine patrols, land-based surveillance, and collaboration with the Government of Mexico.
Those efforts are being overseen by the Department of Homeland Security's recently established Los Angeles/Long Beach Regional Coordination Mechanism. The group is comprised of ICE HSI, CBP's Office of Air and Marine, Office of Field Operations, and U.S. Border Patrol; the U.S. Coast Guard; and several state and local law enforcement agencies, including the sheriff's offices of Orange and Los Angeles counties; and the Los Angeles Police Department. The California National Guard also provides numerous entry identification teams along Southern and Central California's coastal borders in support of the maritime border security mission.
In fiscal year 2011, the Los Angeles/Long Beach Regional Coordination Mechanism recorded a total of 26 maritime smuggling incidents in the greater Los Angeles area, including seven in Ventura County. To date in fiscal year 2012, there have been 14 such incidents in the Southland, including three in Ventura County and one in Santa Barbara County.
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.