Santa Barbara- S County

Fisherman sues County over alleged drug smuggling boat

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A fisherman is suing Santa Barbara County and Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office for rights over a boat he found near the Gaviota Coast in two years ago. 

Eric Bjorklund and two other fishermen spotted the 30 foot suspected smuggling boat almost completely submerged on the morning of February 16, 2015. 

While this is happening, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office received a report of a suspected smuggling boat that would make landfall sometime that day.

Since the boat was the type that is used to smuggle drugs and people, Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, Santa Barbara Police and Harbor Patrol escorted the fishermen and towed the boat back to the Santa Barbara Harbor.

Bjorklund filed a civil lawsuit against Santa Barbara County and the sheriff's office in February 2016. He is expected to be in court for a hearing for this case in two weeks.

Back in 2015, Bjorklund told a NewsChannel 3 reporter he estimated the boat was worth around $40,000. He said he claimed the boat under maritime law.

"For salvage rights, pure salvage rights," he said.

Bjorklund wrote his name along with the date, on the side of the boat with black pen. Claiming salvage rights, he refused to give up the vessel to authorities and was arrested after negotiation.

We reached out to Bjorklund, but did not get a response. 

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office is not able to comment due to the ongoing litigation. 

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