Panga Boat Discovered at San Onofre Beach

Two Bales of Marijuana Wash Ashore, Two Riverside Men Arrested

Two Riverside area men were arrested Monday after a panga boat, two bales of marijuana, and abandoned fuel barrels were found at San Onofre Beach.

A community member walking his dog Monday morning spotted a panga boat washed ashore at San Onofre Beach in Gaviota State Park that authorities confirmed to be a 30-foot-long, twin-engine drug smuggling boat. Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Deputies, California State Park personnel, Santa Barbara County Air Support, and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to the scene, where they found two marijuana bales — one inside the boat, one nearby — fuel barrels inside the boat and in the water, and additional items belonging to the boat’s occupants abandoned nearby.

Francisco Soltero, 32, of the Riverside area.
James Pierce, 38, also of the Riverside area.

Two suspects found near the panga boat — Francisco Soltero, 32, and James Pierce, 38, both of the Riverside area — were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on alleged charges of moving and selling marijuana and being under the influence of a controlled substance after an investigation by Sheriff’s narcotics detectives and officials from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). As stated in a press release from the Sheriff’s Office, HSI has taken the boat into possession and is investigating the incident in collaboration with the Sheriff’s Office.


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