Abandoned smuggling boat found

Suspects were not located

Claire Scholl, NewsChannel 3 Assignment Editor, assignmentdesk@keyt.com
POSTED: 11:38 AM PDT Aug 05, 2013    UPDATED: 09:11 PM PDT Aug 05, 2013 
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SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. -

The United States Coast Guard and Santa Barbara County Sheriff are investigating an abandoned smuggling boat found near a Santa Barbara County beach.

It happened near Tajiguas Canyon Beach early Monday morning.

USGS officials said the boat appears to be 30-feet long.

When the search was completed no suspects were located. The investigation is on going.

Full press release from the Sheriff's office:

Santa Barbara- At around 6:40 a.m. this morning, a passerby driving on Highway101 observed a possible “Panga” boat on the shoreline of Tajiguas Beach, north of Refugio Beach and called 911.  Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Deputies and Narcotics Detectives responded along with personnel from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), California State Parks and the U.S. Coast Guard, which provided air support.  Investigators located a 30 foot abandoned “Panga” on the beach.  A search of the area was conducted but no suspects were located.  While no marijuana was seized, there was evidence of drug trafficking found at the scene.

HSI assisted in removing the vessel, which will be transported to Long Beach and booked as evidence.  The Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Bureau is working with HSI to investigate the increase of “Panga” boat activity in our area.

This is the fourth “Panga” discovered in this general vicinity of Refugio State Beach in recent months.  The last one was found on June 17th on Tajiguas Beach.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to be aware of the ever-growing problem and to please contact law enforcement to report suspicious boats in the ocean off Santa Barbara County or suspicious activity on Highway 101 where there is coastal/beach access.

Tajiguas Canyon Beach