Latest seized panga boat
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY — Just as El Niño makes its warming way up the California coastline, so illegal drug smugglers continue to invade Santa Barbara County.
No greater evidence of that seasonal phenomenon is needed than the arrest on January 30th of a complete “baker’s dozen” of suspects interdicted while attempting to land a large panga boat on the sands of Arroyo Quemada Beach in the city of Goleta.
According to the report filed by United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker, the U.S. Coast Guard operating out of Santa Barbara harbor “first observed the panga boat” in the pre-dawn hours of January 30th, and surveilled the activities of the boat’s three occupants while they were on the beach.
As sunrise approached, two vans and a pickup truck were seen arriving at the beach in proximity to the panga boat. Shortly thereafter, “15 people were observed on shore” unloading bales of marijuana from the boat and placing them inside the three vehicles.
With that word done, the three vehicles “then departed the beach at the same time but went in separate directions.”
With the investigation and surveillance operation involving deputies from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department—all working in concert pursuant to the investigation conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Border Patrol, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department of Homeland Security—one of the vehicles was followed to Camarillo where it was ultimately the subject of an enforcement stop.
The second van was stopped in Carpinteria, and the pickup truck was stopped “when it returned to Arroyo Quemada Beach.”
With 114 bales of marijuana seized, thirteen individuals were arrested and transported to area county jails for booking on charges of possession of nearly 3,000 pounds of marijuana for sale. Those suspects arrested are:
Hector Raul Bernal-Lara, 41
Ricardo Sanchez-Marquez, 36
Daniel Aguilar, 25
Mark Garcia, 23
Susana Tobaldo, 42
Kevin Tes, 22
Josh Rubio, 21
Alfonso Aguilar-Ballestros, 48
Jesus Moreno-Sepulveda, 31
Santiago Galvan-Carrillo, 48
Paul Armenta-Bueno, 34
Bryan Castro, 18
Daniel Fernando-Huizar, 26
Photos: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department