Photo: Catalina - Mexico Drug Drop
Agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection stopped a marijuana smuggling attempt early Tuesday morning off the coast of Catalina Island, seizing more than one ton of marijuana and catching seven people aboard a sailboat and a panga.
At about 3 a.m., the border authorities spotted a sailboat in the area and proceeded to board the sailboat. On board the sailboat, the agents discovered three persons, as well as a loaded shotgun, a .40 caliber pistol, and night vision equipment.
Shortly after the encounter with the sailboat, a Blackhawk helicopter launched from San Diego to patrol the area, suspecting that the sailboat may have been involved with another vessel attempting to swap illegal contraband from boat to boat.
At about 5:45 a.m., agents in the Blackhawk spotted a panga with two engines, occupied by four persons and loaded with bales of possible contraband heading northeast, and located about five nautical miles from the location where the sailboat had been stopped.
Soon after the Blackhawk spotted the panga, the individuals on board changed course and began dumping bales overboard.
Approximately 45 minutes later, other agents intercepted the panga, and after a brief chase, stopped the vessel.
Agents recovered 130 packages of marijuana, weighing about 2,357 pounds, with an estimated street value of more than $1 million.
The four individuals on the panga were identified as Mexican nationals and the three individuals on the sail boat were identified as U.S. citizens – all were arrested according to the Los Angeles Times.