Smuggling Boat Found off Gaviota Coast
Officials Ask Public's Help in Spotting Additional Panga Vessels
A small but fast and seaworthy boat, the kind often used to smuggle people and drugs from Mexico to the United States, was found Wednesday morning off the coast of Santa Barbara.
It was abandoned in the water near Gaviota, and authorities found evidence it had been used for narcotics trafficking, said Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Drew Sugars.
Officials ask the public to be on the lookout for more of these panga boats, which are open vessels usually around 19 to 28 feet in length and powered by one or more outboard motors.
The discovered boat was towed by the U.S. Coast Guard and stored as evidence, explained Sugars. U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, State Parks, and Fish and Game departments also assisted in the investigation.
If you think you’ve spotted a panga boat, call the Sheriff’s office at (805) 681-4100 or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 24-hour tip line at 866) DHS-2ICE.