Investigators estimate Vandenberg pot at $2.8 million
March 13, 2013
Department of Homeland Security investigators have estimated the value of the marijuana that operators of a panga boat left on a Vandenberg Air Force Base beach last week at nearly $2.8 million. [Santa Maria Times]
Vandenberg personnel discovered an overturned panga boat, along with bales of marijuana and six fuel containers at Wall Beach on March 7.
On Monday, Homeland Security investigators said they found a total of 75 bricks of marijuana weighing 1,728 pounds. The panga boat smugglers left the nearly $2.8 million of marijuana in bales stashed in a ditch and covered with ice plant and other foliage. Investigators have yet to locate any suspects.
“I don’t think it was their intended landing site,” said Homeland Security agent David Wales.
Wales said drug smugglers typically have ground crews waiting to transport the contraband once it arrives. Vandenberg does not allow public access to the section of the coast where the panga beached.
Although the panga landing was the first at a Vandenberg beach, panga boats have appeared much more frequently in California in the past year than in previous.
In fiscal year 2012, California officials recorded 210 maritime smuggling incidents. Four years prior, officials recorded only 45 maritime smuggling events in the state.
Three panga boats, each carrying marijuana, beached near San Simeon in 2012.