A week after ten illegal immigrants were discovered in Malibu, along with an abandoned Mexican Panga boat used for drug and human smuggling, State Park rangers discovered yet another abandoned Panga just north of Leo Carrillo State Beach. Rangers also discovered at least 250 lbs. of marijuana scattered among the wreckage. Rangers discovered the crashed smuggling boat last Thursday at 7:30 a.m. near the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Deer Creek Road. The boat had washed upon shore and was caught among the rocks. At first, rangers called for assistance from the Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department for a possible rescue operation for occupants aboard the Panga.
However, no occupants were found onboard or nearby. “Personnel from Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Ventura and Los Angeles County firefighters, State Park Rangers, Ls Angeles County Lifeguards, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents searched for several hours over a one-mile radius, by land, sea, and air,” a VCSD media release states. Officials did find more than a dozen large containers filled with gasoline. Packages filled with marijuana and personal clothing items were littered along the beach. Officials then discovered the remnants of the panga vessel in the rocks, heavily damaged by the intense surf conditions. At least 250 pounds of marijuana and “up to 250 gallons of were recovered from the apparent drug-smuggling operation. The majority of the marijuana was found packaged on the beach near a stairway leading up to the highway,” the media release went on to say.
This event followed the arrest of ten illegal Mexican immigrants found on the same beach just a week prior. No drugs were onboard that panga or on the occupants, though officials presumed the drugs had already been picked up by an accomplice. Captain Mike Aranda of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department’s Media Relations told Canyon News that it is “[their] belief that a majority of the drugs were transported by vehicle to an undetermined location, and what was left behind was a minimal amount they could not retrieve.” There has been a significant increase in human and drug smuggling in recent months by Mexican traffickers attempting landfall in remote areas along Malibu, Ventura, and other adjoining county shorelines. Panga boats and other sea vessels have been discovered, mostly abandoned, with personal belongings.
The high amount of gasoline transported in these smuggling events also poses an environmental threat, especially when wrecks occur. If a vessel overturns or crashes, as it did on Sunday, the fuel could potentially spill into the ocean or on the shore. “Ventura County Environmental Health was on scene for any gasoline spills or other envronmental issues associated with this matter,” the press release reported. Aranda stated that the boat “crashed due to the high ocean swells that took place that day.” ICE and the Ventura County Agency personnel are continuing with the investigation and pursuing the missing occupants. Locals are being asked to report any suspicious individuals or activity in the area.
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