Drug Smugglers Caught in Pursuit off California Coast

By Lea Sutton and R. Stickney
|  Friday, Jun 7, 2013  |  Updated 8:54 PM PDT
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A pursuit on the high seas netted three drug smugglers and approximately 50 bales of marijuana off the coast of San Diego. Navy and Coast Guard vessels and aircraft chased down the loaded boat. NBC 7's Lea Sutton reports.

A pursuit on the high seas netted three drug smugglers and approximately 50 bales of marijuana off the coast of San Diego. Navy and Coast Guard vessels and aircraft chased down the loaded boat. NBC 7's Lea Sutton reports.

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Coast Guard Releases Infrared Video

Drug smugglers, busted off the San Diego coast, after a pursuit with the Navy and Coast Guard.
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Infrared video shows a pursuit on the high seas that netted three drug smugglers and approximately 50 bales of marijuana off the coast of San Diego.

Navy and Coast Guard vessels and aircraft chased down a boat loaded with drugs near the Channel Islands in a pursuit that ended about 90 miles southwest of San Diego.

A suspicious fishing boat was detected by a U.S. Coast Guard plane patrolling the waters in the early hours of the morning Wednesday. Then, the boat tried to flee south towards Mexico officials said.

In the video provided by the Coast Guard, a 45-foot interceptor boat closes in on suspected drug smugglers.

The three suspects surrender and Coast Guard officials take control of their panga.

Pangas are typically used for fishing but this boat has 3,200 HP engines, 2 large fuel tanks, and 2 large storage compartments.

The Coast Guard says the suspected smugglers reached speeds up to 40 miles per hour as they threw bundles of marijuana overboard.

As Navy and Coast Guard helicopters and surface vessels chased them nearly 400 miles south.

"They employed warning shots - when the small boat ultimately got on scene they charged their weapons for warning shots and disabling fire to shoot the engines of the panga but ultimately once the smugglers saw that they stopped," said Capt. Sean Mahoney.

Around 50 bales of marijuana were recovered in this operation.

USCG officials said Friday the operation is one example of recent inter-agency successes in drug interdiction off the U.S. coast.

They say those efforts have seized or disrupted more 60,000 pounds of marijuana so far this year in the waters off San Diego.
 

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