[UPDATE] Santa Rosa Island reopens November 2, after federal and local law enforcement officers swept the island, looking for smugglers who left 44 bundles of marijuana weighing nearly 3,000 pounds.
Three campers were evacuated from Santa Rosa Island for their safety after park rangers found bundles of marijuana believed to be associated with contraband runners. The island has been closed to the public temporarily while federal and local law enforcement search by air and land for smugglers and to recover any contraband. Smuggler activity seems to have resumed recently, with a panga boat found on the Gaviota coast on October 23 after several were discovered earlier in January and March.
About 73 visitors were scheduled for trips to the island this weekend with Island Packers, which have been cancelled as no landings are permitted. “It’s always unfortunate when we have to cancel,” said Alex Brodie, the fleet manager at Island Packers, “especially for the 40 or so campers who had weekend plans.”
Santa Rosa Island is fairly large, at 84 square miles, and its terrain holds cliffs, steep canyons, and sea caves along the shoreline. The National Park staff has also left the island, said Yvonne Menard, a spokesperson for the Channel Islands National Park, and rangers remain on-island to assist in the search. An island was last shut down when smugglers rammed a Coast Guard ship in 2012, killing Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III. The incident occurred off Santa Cruz Island, which was searched, but no smugglers found.