Coast Guard apprehends eight, recovers 2,000 pounds of marijuana

11th Coast Guard District NewsLOS ANGELES – The Coast Guard apprehended eight people and recovered nearly 2,000 pounds of marijuana during two separate interdictions northwest of Catalina Island, Calif., Jan. 10, 2012.

The crews of the Coast Guard Cutter Halibut and a 45-foot response boat from Coast Guard Station Los Angeles-Long Beach located two contacts on radar while on patrol. As the Coast Guard vessels approached the darkened boats, a short pursuit ensued that ended with the apprehensions occurring at about 11:45 p.m.

A Station Los Angeles-Long Beach boarding team apprehended four individuals aboard one boat and recovered the marijuana. The Halibut’s boarding team intercepted the second boat with four people aboard.

The individuals and narcotics were transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents assigned to the Los Angeles Border Enforcement Security Taskforce (BEST) for further investigation.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is preparing to file drug trafficking charges against the four men aboard the boat containing the narcotics.

This bust marks the first time in California that a Coast Guard 45-foot boat, designated as Response Boat Medium or RBM, was involved in a narcotic interdiction.

The law enforcement response to this event is the result of extensive coordination between local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies that are all working together as members of the Central California Maritime Agency Coordination Group (CenCal MAC.) The CenCal MAC was established per the Department of Homeland Security’s Maritime Operations Plan to coordinate intelligence, resources, planning, and operations amongst law enforcement agencies in Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties that include coastal/maritime activities within their area of responsibility.

Members of the CenCal MAC include U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the U.S. Coast Guard; and numerous state and local law enforcement agencies.

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