Drug smuggling bust in Santa Barbara Co. leads to 18 arrests, 3,000 pounds of marijuana

Panga boat intercepted near Arroyo Quemada

Smuggling operation suspected along the coast leads to 18 arrests

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - An early morning drug bust led to 18 arrests and thousands of pounds of marijuana. Santa Barbara County's sheriff's deputies said it appears the marijuana was smuggled by a Panga boat.

The Sheriff's narcotics detectives conducted surveillance near Arroyo Quemada and U.S. Highway 101 between 1:00 a.m. and 4:45 a.m. on May 12. They followed a truck to Dos Pueblos Canyon Road where investigators say they saw a man run to a creek bed. They said they saw more than a dozen bales of marijuana in the cargo area of the truck.

The Sheriff's Office says soon after taking control of the truck at Dos Pueblos Canyon Road, law enforcement officials saw three other vehicles entering and leaving the Arroyo Quemada Lane area at high speeds, which they say was consistent with part drug smuggling operations.

Eventually, authorities stopped the three vehicles "revealing multiple subjects who smelled of fuel and were covered in sand and water. This is consistent with smugglers transferring marijuana bales from the panga boat to load vehicles," said a statement by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities discovered a large Panga boat on the coastline near the area where they had stopped the suspect vehicles. They eventually seized 120 bales of marijuana, weighing more than 3,000 pounds.

The investigation is ongoing. The identities of the 18 men arrested have not yet been released.


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