SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif- Three panga boats have been spotted in San Luis Obispo County. All three boats were found on the north coast. The Department of Homeland Security said this area is becoming a target landing site because smugglers think by going farther out to sea and coming ashore farther north helps them escape detection.
In 2010 there were around 120 drug smuggling panga boats found along the California coast, so far this year the number has almost doubled. In San Luis Obispo County it is no different. One reason the SLO County Sheriff's Office said the number of incidents are increasing on the central coast is the geography.
"It's very remote, it's a relatively safe place for them to come and make landfall and offload their product," said Commander Aaron Nix. Now, the Sheriff's Office said these drug runs are on their radar. "Increasing patrol along the coast, relying on citizens, and using air resources," said Commander Nix.
Local law enforcement is getting increased help from federal agencies. Homeland Security is also stepping up involvement with panga boats incidents, and its communication with Mexico's law enforcement. "We are going internationally to deal with these transnational criminal organizations and going back to the source where they are originating and dealing with some of the issues there with law enforcement," said David Whales, a Special Agent with DHS.
Homeland security has also increased ground-base surveillance in several spots including San Luis Obispo County. "They are able to scan the coast and the water for any targets that look viable," said Whales. So far this year DHS has seized 4 times the amount of drugs as last year from panga boat operations.
Friday, May 24 2013 1:37 PM EDT2013-05-24 17:37:22 GMT
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