Yet another “panga”—a small skiff originating from Mexico carrying illegal drugs and sometimes people—has been found in San Luis Obispo County.
This time, however, local authorities caught some suspects in the act.
According to a SLO County Sheriff’s Department press release, just after midnight on May 29, deputies spotted suspicious vehicles in Los Osos traveling into Montaña de Oro State Park. The sheriff’s Special Operations Unit was called in to investigate, and they conducted surveillance on the vehicles.
At approximately 6:30 a.m., officers observed people and packages being loaded into the vehicles. After initiating traffic stops on Los Osos Valley Road, investigators reported discovering a “large quantity” of what they believed was marijuana. At the same time, a roughly 35-foot panga was discovered along a secluded beach near Montaña de Oro State Park.
Fourteen people were taken into custody and booked into the SLO County Jail. Though the Sheriff’s Department hasn’t released the names, it announced that the majority of them were Mexican nationals.
Since January, when local law enforcement agencies received federal grant money to combat the growing trend of pangas beaching locally, patrols have been stepped up in the area, mostly on remote stretches of coastline, where various county, state, and federal officials have told New Times panga operators prefer to land.
Local authorities are working closely in the effort with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, California Highway Patrol, and California State Parks rangers.