$4m of pot on beach in California highlights smuggling trend

$4m of pot on beach: The $4 million in marijuana found near an abandoned boat near Santa Barbara is not the first. Police say more than 20 of these pot smuggling boats have landed in the area in the past year.

Authorities have found about $4 million worth of marijuana and a panga boat at a beach in Santa Barbara County.

The boat was spotted early Sunday at Arroyo Quemado Beach. Partially hidden in bushes were 50 plastic-wrapped bales of pot with a combined weight estimated at 2,000 pounds.

The 30-foot boat with two outboard engines was apparently abandoned and had at least 20 fuel containers on board. Panga boats are often used for smuggling people or drugs into the United States from Mexico.

The use of these boats to smuggle drugs and illegal immigrants is growing, according to a statement on the website of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's office:

“Panga” style boats are small watercraft powered by one or more outboard motors. They are commonly used by fishermen in developing countries and have become increasingly popular with smugglers engaged in transporting illegal immigrants, narcotics, or other contraband from Mexico to the United States. 

Between 2012 and 2013, more than 20 “Panga” style boats have landed on the Santa Barbara County coastline, transporting cargos of narcotics, illegal immigrants and/or other contraband. 

The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to be aware of this increasing problem and to please contact Law Enforcement immediately if they see any suspicious boats in Santa Barbara County waters and/or any suspicious activity on Highway 101, adjacent to coastal beach access.

Earlier this month, marijuana worth at least $1 million was discovered near a boat abandoned on the Vandenberg Air Force Base coastline.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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