Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies seized about 4,000 pounds of marijuana valued at about $3 million and detained three Mexican nationals after a flat-bottomed motorboat ran aground in a remote area off Catalina Island, sheriff's officials said Monday.
A department employee on the island called for backup from the sheriff's Avalon station at 5:45 p.m. Sunday after seeing that the 30-foot panga with two 250-horsepower motors and 400 gallons of fuel aboard had become stranded in Cottonwood Cove, a remote area on the southwest side of the island, said Capt. Mike Parker of the Sheriff's Department.
Deputies said three men aboard the boat claimed they had paid a smuggler to bring them to the United States and were abandoned after the boat ran aground. Deputies found what appeared to be multiple bundles of marijuana on the boat, Parker said.
"This was discovered because of a very observant sheriff's employee working a remote part of the island," Parker said. "He saw something that looked suspicious. It's not typical to see a boat run aground there. His suspicions were raised, and he thought there was more to the story."