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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on May 24th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 12 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 12

Another panga boat discovered on local beach

By BRENNA SWANSTON

A citizen passerby discovered an abandoned 30-foot panga boat on Friday, May 19, 1 mile north of Refugio State Beach, according to Kelly Hoover, public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.


WASHED UP
The panga boat found near Refugio State Beach on May 19 was the first reported in Santa Barbara County since Oct. 23, 2016.
PHOTO COURTESY OF KELLY HOOVER

The fishing vessel, which the Sheriff’s Office suspects was used to traffic drugs, was empty except for a large container holding about 90 gallons of fuel. Sheriff’s Office investigators found five bales of marijuana in nearby bushes but did not connect the boat or bales to any suspects.

The boat has since been turned over to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for investigation. Hoover said the department has not disclosed the boat’s current location.

The last panga boat found on Santa Barbara County shores washed up along Gaviota Beach, and was discovered on Oct. 23, 2016, Hoover said. The boats, suspected Mexican drug cartel smuggling vessels, occasionally appear on the Central Coast.

“We’ve had periods where we’ll see several, and then we’ll go through a period where we won’t see any in our area, though maybe other parts of California are seeing them,” Hoover told the Sun.

Recently, a panga boat found along the southern coast of Santa Barbara County in 2012 was officially connected to the Sinaloa cartel, which controls a large portion of the illegal drug markets in the southwest and northeast parts of the United States.




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