Stormy seas for Santa Barbara smugglers

SANTA BARBARA — Federal narcotics agents booked four Mexican nationals Wednesday on charges of smuggling just over a ton of marijuana into the waters just off the Santa Barbara coast in a small boat.

One of the suspects had allegedly paid $2,000 to be smuggled into the U.S. as part of the seagoing trafficking.

The four suspects — Jesus Efrain-armenia, Francisco javier Gracia-Esquivel, Fedel Sanchez-Zavala, and Jose Rodriguez-Lopez — were initially spotted by a U.S. Navy helicopter patrol on March 4 as they motored northward some 40 miles west of Point Loma in the San Diego area, but contact was lost when the chopper returned to base for refueling.

Subsequent patrols relocated wreckage of the vessel on the beach of Santa Rosa Island, 26 miles off the Santa Barbara mainland.  Federal agents made island landfall via helicopter and immediately discovered the four suspects and 46 bales of marijuana.

Customs and Border Protection agent-spokesman Vincent Bond said there has been an increase in small-vessel smuggling in California waters as a result of increased drug and illegal immigrant enforcement at the points of land entry into the U.S., indicating that both federal and local law enforcement agencies are currently monitoring all small craft harbors and points of entry like Santa Barbara.

Stormy seas for Santa Barbara smugglers was last modified: July 17th, 2012 by admin
Categories: Santa Barbara

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