Thirteen people were arrested on suspicion of distributing marijuana after federal authorities intercepted a panga boat near Santa Barbara that had carried about 3,000 pounds of marijuana, authorities said Monday.
The U.S. Coast Guard spotted the boat with three occupants early Saturday at Arroyo Quemada Beach, about 20 miles west of Santa Barbara, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.
Authorities also spotted others on shore who helped unload more than 100 bales of marijuana and put then into vehicles, prosecutors said.
The two vehicles transporting the marijuana were tracked down and the pot was seized. One van was stopped in Camarillo; a pickup was stopped in Carpinteria, prosecutors said.
Another van was used to transport people, and it was stopped when it drove back to Arroyo Quemada Beach, prosecutors said.
Federal and local authorities arrested Hector Bernal-Lara, 41; Ricardo Sanchez-Marquez, 36; Daniel Aguilar, 25; Mark Garcia, 23; Susana Tobaldo, 42; Kevin Tes, 22; Josh Rubio, 21; Alfonso Aguilar-Ballestros, 48; Jesus Moreno-Sepulveda, 31; Santiago Galvan-Carrillo, 48; Paul Armenta-Bueno, 34; Bryan Castro, 18; and Daniel Fernando-Huizar, 26.
Each faces up to life in prison if convicted.
In a statement, U.S. Atty. Eileen Decker vowed to continue to combat the trafficking of drugs via panga boats.
"Smuggling by panga boat endangers the lives of both the smugglers and authorities interdicting the boats and their payloads," Decker said.