Smugglers go to new distances to sneak into CA - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Smugglers go to new distances to sneak into CA

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MALIBU, Calif. (AP/ CBS8) - It's a problems we've experienced here in San Diego. But now, L.A. and Ventura Counties are dealing with their first-ever smuggling boat washing ashore.

Federal authorities are investigating whether an abandoned fishing boat found floating off the coast north of Malibu was used to smuggle illegal immigrants, contraband or both.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent David Wales says the 32-foot boat, known as a panga, was discovered Wednesday morning near rocks along Pacific Coast Highway just over the Ventura County border.

Eighteen fuel canisters were found on the open-hulled vessel, along with life preservers, backpacks and other belongings.

Wales says the panga, which had two outboard engines, is similar to boats interdicted in Southern California that were used to transport drugs and illegal immigrants.

It's a problem officials in San Diego are familiar with. Just last year over 800 illegal immigrants were arrested along our coast, either transporting human cargo or illegal drugs.

Just last week a 50-pound brick of marijuana was found on a La Jolla beach, presumably washed ashore after falling off a smuggling boat at sea.

But never before have authorities investigating a smuggling operation this far north.

Officials from the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, the state parks department and other agencies are aiding the investigation.

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