A search-and-rescue operation quickly turned into a drug-smuggling investigation Thursday morning when authorities found 250 pounds of cargo from a damaged boat that turned out to be marijuana. The occupants of the boat fled before authorities arrived. The boat, split in two on rocks south of Point Mugu State Park, came to the attention of state parks rangers who were patrolling a coastline that had become especially treacherous due to unusually high surf.
Rescuers who arrived first came upon debris: floating gasoline containers and marijuana packaged neatly in burlap bags. Farther south, marooned among rocks, was what remained of a splintered 20-foot fishing boat. “We did not find injured people along the beach or in the water,” said Bill Nash, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department. “We turned the matter over to law enforcement.”
Documents inside or near the boat were in Spanish, suggesting that the smugglers may have sailed from Mexico, said Capt. Mike Aranda of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. There’s been an increase in smuggling in recent months by traffickers attempting landfall in remote areas along the Ventura County shoreline and adjoining counties, he said.
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