A day at the beach is usually synonymous with relaxation, sun, and fun. Sure, (most) people slather on sunblock to avoid sunburn and watch out for rip tides, but in general beachgoers are able to leave the issues of daily life behind.
Not in Southern California, where one must be on the lookout for hypodermic needles, strung-out (and possibly deceased) homeless people, high fecal bacteria counts in the water, and drug cartel-owned panga boats filled with drums of gasoline and marijuana washing ashore.
Yes, you read that correctly. People out for a peaceful early-morning stroll down the beach in Malibu encountered a beached panga boat carrying more than a quarter of a ton of marijuana, as reported by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.
[A]t approximately 6:15 AM, sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the area of PCH and Deer Creek Road regarding a beached vessel. Upon arrival, deputies discovered a beached vessel and quickly determined it was a narcotics smuggling vessel commonly referred to as panga boats. The 35 foot panga boat was unoccupied and beached using a make shift wrought iron anchor.
During the search of the panga, deputies found 41 bales containing marijuana, which had a combined weight of 577 pounds.
In addition to the marijuana, deputies located 37 large containers filled with approximately 605 gallons of gasoline. The gas containers were located inside the panga, floating in the water and some were on the beach.
The news release explicitly pointed the finger at “Mexico based narcotics smugglers” who “work closely with associates in the Unites States to transport their narcotics.”
This isn’t an isolated occurrence.
Last month, 43 bales of marijuana, worth about $1 million, were found floating in the ocean near Catalina Island.
Between 2011 and 2016, 234 of 309 detected drug smuggling operations involving panga boats and recreational vessels in the country were intercepted in California, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.
That made up 76% of all maritime drug smuggling busts in the country.
The boat was beached just south of Point Mugu/Naval Base Ventura County, where the recovery operation for the Catalina boat fire was centered. The red dot on the map shows where the boat was found; the Channel Islands are just to the west.
Something tells me that an extra heavy US Coast Guard presence throughout the entire Channel Islands area could have made navigating the waters too risky for the drug dealers…but that’s just me.