Eight arrested after Thanksgiving panga beaches by San Simeon
November 28, 2014
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s deputies arrested eight suspects and confiscated at least one ton of marijuana after a panga boat beached near San Simeon early Thursday morning.
Around 3:30 a.m., deputies saw a white, full size Dodge panel van driving in the San Simeon area, which is considered a prime maritime smuggling location. The deputies conducted a traffic stop and noticed between 60 and 90 large bales of marijuana in the van.
The bales of marijuana are estimated to weigh between 2,000 and 3,000 pounds. Deputies arrested the driver and lone occupant of the van, Rafael Rebolledo.
Sheriff’s narcotics detectives then searched the coastline from San Simeon to the Monterey County line, looking for smuggling activity. Around 8:30 a.m., detectives found a 35-foot panga boat with three 225 HP Yamaha outboard engines abandoned on the beach.
Detectives then found five men who are allegedly connected with the marijuana offload. Investigators spotted the suspects near the Piedras Blancas lighthouse.
During the search for suspects, sheriff’s personnel alerted the Monterey County Sherriff’s Office, whose deputies stopped a second white Ford panel van that contained 60 to 90 barrels of marijuana. The stop occurred on Highway 1 south of Carmel and led to the arrest of the van’s occupants.
San Luis Obispo County’s sheriff’s dive team removed the panga and its gasoline and drove the boat under its own power to Morro Bay. Deputies transported the Dodge van to the sheriff’s crime lab, along with the confiscated marijuana, which is being held for evidence.
A sheriff’s new release lists eight people arrested, each of whom received charges of conspiracy and importation or transportation of marijuana. The suspects are: 41-year-old Rafael Rebolledo of Lynwood, 19-year-old Sergio Cortes of Moreno Valley, 26-year-old Lucio Laureano-Atanocio of Gilroy, 24-year-old Filberto Vasquez of an unknown city, 25-year-old Antonio Palomares of an unknown city and two 17-year-old males from Moreno Valley.
The sheriff’s office did not release the names of the two juveniles.
An investigation into the smuggling operation is ongoing.