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Boat with nearly a ton of marijuana is part of growing smuggler trend

May 26, 2013|By Los Angeles Times Staff

The discovery of a Mexican smuggling boat, which was carrying nearly a ton of marijuana, in Manhattan Beach is part of a growing trend on the beaches of Southern California.

Border Patrol agents spotted the panga boat just before 3 a.m. Saturday in waters illuminated by a full moon.

After the vessel came ashore near 44th Street, authorities discovered 1,850 pounds of marijuana and two Mexican men, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

The men were taken into custody for questioning, ICE said.

Maritime smuggling has been on the rise as federal authorities fortified border and airport enforcement.

In the last two years, encounters with ocean-going smugglers has nearly doubled, with the sharpest increase along secluded beaches in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, though the greatest number still occur in San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties, according to customs officials.

In 2008, there were 45 human-smuggling-related incidents, most of them in the San Diego area. In 2012 there were more than 200.

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harriet.ryan@latimes.com

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