The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the February 1st discovery of a “panga” boat drifting just off an exclusive Montecito beach, and has made public an appeal for any information as to the whereabouts of its passengers or cargo.
The sighting of the blue-and-white, undamaged boat—complete with functioning motor and navigational equipment—led to an investigation by the Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol investigation which produced a number of life vests. According to media statements by Drew Sugars, SBSD Public Information Officer, “it appears that as many as 20 people were on that boat”. A thorough search of the area—notable for its internationally famous and highly-valued residential properties—failed to yield any suspects.
The panga boat recovered just yards south of the exclusive Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel was in excellent condition and remained operable. “This is a very seaworthy vessel,” Sugars reported, “apparently designed for the sole purpose of transporting passengers.”
In recent weeks, SBSD detectives and U.S. Coast Guard crews have recovered abandoned panga boats on the Gaviota coast and at Refugio Beach. Ventura County Sheriffs continue to investigate a similar discovery just two weeks ago, pursuant to evidence of contraband smuggling as well as delivering human cargo to county beaches., where 500 kg of marijuana was recently found floating offshore at Point Mugu near the Ventura-Los Angeles County Line.
Any member of the public with information related to these events is urged to contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at 866-DHS-2ICE.
Photos: courtesy Santa Barbara County Sheriff
keyt.com: Abandoned Panga Boat Found Off Shore In Montecito
Santa Barbara Independent: More and More Smugglers Take to the Sea
Read more crime news from San Luis Obispo County.
Read more crime news from Santa Barbara County.
Read more crime news from Ventura County.