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Local filmmaker tackles drug-smuggling issue

Jesse Aizenstat makes documentary on growing problem

Drug smuggling boats an increasing problem on Central Coast

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The smuggling boat phenomena isn't going away anytime soon. With the mode becoming more popular with drug smugglers, one Santa Barbara documentary filmmaker decided to check things out for himself.

His name is Jesse Aizenstat, and he knew there was a story to tell when he read about the increase in drug smuggling boats coming ashore on the coastline of Santa Barbara County. So he decided to drive down to baja to investigate the story.

Smuggling boats are also called "panga" boats, and already this year there have been over 16 incidents along the central coast. 25,000 pounds of marijuana has been siezed by law enforcement and close to 100 arrests have been made. That's a significant increase from last year's numbers.

"It's not about the pangas, it's about the dealers finding new ways to deliver drugs and people across the border," reports Aizenstat.

As the us government tightens security along the border with Mexico, drug dealers have had to find alternative routes to the us, and the Central Coast has become an attractive destination.

Kelly Hoover of the Santa Barbara Sheriff's department says that Santa Barbara County has long stretches of unpopulated land, which makes this area an easy target for smugglers.

Aizenstat's documentary, called "Baja Smugglers" was released on You Tube; he's quick to point out that while some boats can carry over 3 million dollars worth of Marijuana, it's a small fraction of what the U.S. Government plans to spend on eliminating the issue.

"The real money is in trying to stop it. Drones, choppers, $50 billion in the next stimulus package," says Aizenstat.

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