SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection interdicted 3,500 pounds of marijuana and more than 30 pounds of methamphetamine, and detained four suspected smugglers from a panga in international waters approximately 170 miles southwest of San Diego on Friday.
A Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine aircraft operating in the region located a suspicious panga with four suspected smugglers retrieving bales from the water. The Coast Guard Cutter Mellon intercepted the panga with assistance from a Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft also patrolling the area. Crew members from the Mellon and the Coast Guard Cutter Sea Otter retrieved packages of methamphetamine and approximately 71 bales of marijuana from the water.
The seized panga was towed to San Diego where the boat, methamphetamine, and four suspects were turned over to the interagency San Diego Marine Task Force.
“This is an excellent demonstration of the dedication, skill, and tenacity of our U.S. Coast Guard and partner agency crews,” said Rear Adm. Karl Schultz, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District. “Our air, sea, and land-based teams deftly coordinated another successful interdiction to keep thousands of pounds of illegal drugs off our streets and deny funds and resources to the criminal organizations that threaten the security of our nation. The value of this mission is clear, and I’m proud of the interagency collaboration being done by our men and women on the operational front lines,” he said.
The Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection are member agencies of the Regional Coordinating Mechanism (ReCoM). The ReCoM is comprised of the U.S. Coast Guard, CBP's Office of Air and Marine, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations and state and local law enforcement partners operating in Southern California. ReCoM coordinates planning and operations to target the threat of transnational crime along the coastal border.