ALAMEDA, Calif. – U.S. Coast Guard crews, along with partner agencies, recovered an estimated 2,400 pounds of marijuana jettisoned from a panga vessel approximately 200 miles off the U.S. and Mexico border in international waters Thursday.
While conducting a routine patrol in the area, a C-130 aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento located a panga-type vessel traveling north. The Coast Guard Cutter Midgett and Her Majesty's Canadian Ship Vancouver were both diverted to intercept.
Once Midgett closed in on the panga they launched two interceptor boats. The suspected smugglers aboard the panga immediately sped away.
A U.S. Navy helicopter conducting operations in the area detected the fleeing panga heading east about 70 miles west of Mexico. The Coast Guard C-130 aircrew sighted the panga and relayed to vessel's position to the Mexican navy. Mexican officials found the abandoned panga with no one in the vicinity approximately 30 miles south of Ensenada, Mexico.
A helicopter from the Vancouver located jettisoned bales in the water. The crew of the Vancouver recovered 34 bales from that location. The helicopter later passed the location of more jettisoned bales in the water.
A Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine Multi-role Encorcement Aircraft crew vectored in the Midgett whose crew then recovered an additional 62 bales, bringing the total to 96, or approximately 2,400 pounds of marijuana.
"This is an excellent demonstration of the teamwork, dedication, and tenacity of our Coast Guard and partner agency crews," said Capt. Daniel Pickles, 11th Coast Guard District chief of enforcement. "Together, we are committed to disrupting the flow of illegal drugs in the Pacific and will continue to aggressively pursue suspected smugglers."