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Coast Guard pulls 3.3 tons of pot from sea off Southern California

April 02, 2013|By Tony Perry
  • Crew members of the Coast Guard cutter Alert offload more than 3.3 tons of marijuana recovered from the ocean off Southern California. Smugglers threw 245 bales overboard after being spotted about 1:30 a.m. Sunday.
Crew members of the Coast Guard cutter Alert offload more than 3.3 tons of… (Petty Officer 3rd Class…)

SAN DIEGO -- The Coast Guard recovered 3.3 tons of marijuana off Southern California when smugglers tossed 245 bales overboard after their boat was spotted, the Coast Guard said Tuesday.

The 210-foot cutter Alert recovered the bales early Sunday about 90 miles west of San Nicolas Island. The smugglers' boat made a U-turn and sped back to Mexican waters, as the Coast Guard notified the Mexican navy, officials said.

The Alert, from its homeport in Astoria, Ore., was on anti-smuggling duty off Southern California when the smugglers' boat was spotted about 1:30 a.m.  The smugglers had been located by a Sacramento-based Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft.

"The Sinaloa cartel and other criminal organizations are exploiting these sea routes to move their illicit cargo and fund their broader illegal enterprises," 11th Coast Guard District Cmdr. Karl Schultz said.

San Nicolas Island, which is controlled by the U.S. Navy, is part of the Channel Islands, approximately 70 miles southwest of San Pedro.

The marijuana was offloaded Sunday in San Diego for destruction.

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tony.perry@latimes.com

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