A boat carrying at least $1 million worth of marijuana that washed up on Wall Beach near Vandenberg Air Force Base on March 7 is a panga, U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials confirmed on March 8.
Dave Wales, the ICE agent in charge of the investigation, said the
contraband marijuana weighed in at approximately 1,728 pounds.
Base personnel found the 25-foot boat turned upside down on the beach.
Its single outboard motor, which had been ripped from the back of the boat, was discovered nearby “broken into pieces,” Wales said. But that wasn’t the only find of the day.
“A short distance away ... I’d say no more than a quarter of a mile in a ravine, we found the marijuana,” Wales said. “It’d been stacked up and it looked like someone had tried to camouflage it with seaweed and other vegetation from the beach.
“It was kind of sticking out like a sore thumb,” he said.
Because of the condition of the boat when it was found, local law
enforcement agents searched the water and shore near the crash site for people, but came up empty handed. Wales said they believe whoever was in the boat made it safely to shore and then transported the marijuana to the ravine in hopes of hiding it.
“My guess is they had engine problems and they were tossed about until the boat came ashore or they landed in the wrong place,” he said.
This is the first known crash of a panga on Vandenberg Air Force Base
property. ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said a panga was discovered at the Seal Beach naval weapon station last year.
Civilians who see any suspicious activities in remote offshore areas are asked to make a report to local law enforcement.