The U.S. Coast Guard apprehended 19 Mexican nationals on 2/23 as they sped in a panga boat through the Santa Barbara Channel near Santa Rosa Island. From a helicopter above, Coast Guard crews directed one of their boats to the panga, taking 19 people into custody and turning them over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The incident came a day after authorities found an abandoned panga boat on the shore south of Refugio Beach. It was reportedly used to smuggle drugs. The use of panga boats to sneak Mexican contraband and people into the U.S. is on a dramatic rise in Southern California, spurred by tightened border security.


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