Fisherman snatches panga, officers arrest fisherman

February 17, 2015

pangaA fisherman cited maritime law in claiming a panga he found Monday in Santa Barbara County as his possession, but law enforcement officials said the boat belonged to them and arrested the man. [KEYT]

Eric Bjorklund and two other fishermen spotted the panga almost entirely submerged near El Capitan around 8 a.m. Monday. They were searching for sea urchins at the time.

The fishermen then spent an hour removing the water from the boat, tied the panga to their vessel and took off. Bjorkland wrote his name and the date on the side of the boat.

As the fishermen began to tow the panga, a Coast Guard helicopter circled overhead. Then, authorities from the Coast Guard and Homeland Security, as well as Santa Barbra police and harbor patrol escorted the fishermen towing the boat to Santa Barbara.

When they docked, Bjorklund refused to give up the panga, which he estimates is worth $40,000 with its two new motors. Law enforcement officials told Bjorklund the boat is evidence in a criminal investigation.

They arrested him for misdemeanor possession of evidence.


Wow! Someone finally found the S.S Minnow.


The boat would be on the bottom of the pacific if it weren’t for the fishermen, and obviously not able(or required) to be used as evidence. They just want it for the money, in violation of maritime law.


They were probably looking for the boat for several days after their contacts told them the incompetents they hired to stage the drug landing swamped it. They can’t let the fisherman keep the boat, because then they will have to buy or steal a new one to repeatedly use in staged drug smuggling operations to justify increased budgets.


They arrested him for misdemeanor possession of evidence.


Did the cops really have to arrest this guy and charge him with a crime? Did they really think he was a criminal who needed criminal charges? Where is the common sense? Now, the guy has to be run through the criminal system–at a cost and, if the DA chooses to pursue charges, the guy will have to retain an attorney and make court appearances etc. etc. all of which costs valuable public resources with no end game. Didn’t the guy actually do the cops a huge favor?

Is this where our police resources should be focused, on fishermen who find an abandoned, sinking boat? As if what, the guy should have just let the boat sink to to the bottom of the ocean? As if the cops have an ongoing case that they know this boat is evidence in? As if this fisherman should know the boat is evidence in an ongoing case?

It’s all just a bunch of bureaucratic, lack of common sense, non-thinking baloney. Seems to be the state of our government employees these days. They have no common sense. Just bloated government departments looking to justify their existence.

And don’t even get me started on why it’s still cheaper to use $40,000 boats to transport MJ up here from Mexico when it can be grown as cheap as corn right here.


Watch eventually the fishermen will try to file an appeal to get their rightfully acquired property back and some government agency will rule against the fishermen because of what ever reason they feel like giving. Sorry boys the government can do whatever it wants and we are just sheep who must do what we are told or else. Anyone who advocates for more of bigger government is a fool!


Which law enforcement department made the arrest? If it was the Sherrifs Department they are in for a rude awakening.


Wow, Ian and the SLO County Sheriffs dept. did not get a chance to launch their new million dollar off shore race boat, oh… I heard the County does not have a truck big enough to pull it, so he needs another $70,000.00 for a truck.

Rich in MB

Maritime Salvage law is pretty clear….the Fisherman has rights to a legal lean on the boat.

Sure the authorities can hold it for evidence, just like they could your car, but the authorities will lose when it comes to salvage law.

Jorge Estrada

I kind of agree with the fisherman’s catch for the day position. Just because it’s a panga doesn’t mean that it is evidence to a crime. The pangas may have been abandoned by law abiding Mexicans who came here to get their driver’s license.

Extremely Stoic

Or to file their cas enriched tax return.