Coast Guard seizes 7,100 pounds of marijuana and detains three smugglers.

By Jeanne McKinney

The U.S. Coast Guard and its partner law enforcement agencies recently disabled another major marijuana smuggling operation for the second time in a month.

According to a Coast Guard press release, on Dec. 10, a Coast Guard aircrew on a HC-130 Hercules spotted a 30-foot panga in international waters approximately 155 miles southwest of San Diego. Coast Guard Cutters Active and Edisto and a 45-foot Response Boat from Station San Diego pursued the fleeing panga, which refused to stop.

A Coast Guard marksman from Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (operating from the Active) used warning shots, and then fired on the engines, obstructing the panga’s escape. Continuous aerial support was provided by an aircraft crew from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine Multi-role Enforcement.

Once intercepted, the 74 bales and three suspects were handed over to San Diego Marine Task Force law enforcement agencies. Capt Michael Eagle, 11th Coast Guard District Chief of Response, praised the successful operation, “In a little more than a week, Active has been involved in stopping two major shipments of illegal drugs.”

On Dec. 2, Coast Guard crews interdicted a panga loaded with 201 bales of marijuana operated by two suspected smugglers. In both cases, Eagle said that Coast Guard aviators and boat crews “…used their law enforcement training, tools and techniques to safely apprehend five suspected smugglers and stop the delivery of more than six tons of marijuana.”

Eagle adds, “The Coast Guard, along with our international, federal, state and local partners, will continue to work to counter these transnational criminal organizations and we will use every available resource...”

*Related Coast Guard story:‘the-greatest-threat-is-the-threat-we-don’t-know’/