OCEANSIDE — A 48-year-old U.S. citizen and California resident is facing federal charges after U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine found more than 500 pounds of methamphetamine hidden in a compartment of the man’s boat.
On Feb.21 agents from the San Diego Regional Coordinating Mechanism stopped a private recreational boat at Oceanside Harbor.
At about 10:30 a.m., Marine Interdiction Agents were conducting a routine patrol of the harbor when they encountered a 30-foot, twin engine Wellcraft boat with one person onboard.
Agents determined the boat was arriving into U.S. waters from Mexico, escorted the boat to the dock, and conducted a customs inspection of the vessel.
When on board the vessel, Marine Interdiction Agents conducted their inspection with the assistance of a U.S. Border Patrol agent with a canine and a CBP officer. They found signs of a hidden compartment that ran down the sides within the hull of the boat, and under the floor. Assisted by U.S. Border Patrol agents from San Clemente Station, agents found 200 packages tightly wrapped with plastic inside the compartment.
The packages contained 540.5 pounds of methamphetamine, which has an estimated street value of about $7 million.
“Events in recent years have highlighted the threat of the panga — open hulled Mexican fishing boats that attempt to evade us, but when spotted are easy to identify as smuggling vessels,” said Keley Hill, Director of Marine Operations in San Diego. “What can never be overlooked is the covert nature of traditional smuggling methods that have been in use since time immemorial. A smuggler posing as a legitimate recreational or commercial boater is the proverbial needle in a sea of needles in a place like Southern California and Baja Mexico, where boating is a way of life.”