Suspected panga found overturned near Pescadero, Calif.

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ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Coast Guard launched a search for possible missing persons after a capsized vessel was found near Pigeon Cove in Pescadero, Calif., Monday.

Local Coast Guard Auxiliary, San Mateo County Fire and State Parks personnel notified Coast Guard Sector San Francisco watchstanders at approximately 11 a.m., reporting a 18-to-20 foot vessel was capsized.

A Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, a Coast Guard  Station Golden Gate 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew and the Coast Guard Cutter Sockeye were launched to search the area. The capsized vessel was located and after a thorough search did not find anyone in distress. Coast Guard, and other responding federal and regional law enforcement agencies determined the vessel had characteristics similar to that of a panga.

Coast Guard anti-smuggling poster

Over the past few years, officials have seen a trend of smugglers from Mexico traveling farther north along the California coast taking longer routes and greater risks to evade patrols.

“Fast 25- to 50-foot open-hull boats powered by two or more outboard motors, commonly referred to as ‘pangas,’ are used by smugglers to transport illegal drugs and people into the United States,” said Capt. Greg Stump, Coast Guard Sector San Francisco commander.

“Some folks may ask, ‘What’s the big deal?’ The big deal is that this smuggling activity helps fund violent international criminal organizations, threatens the safety of law-abiding citizens at sea and ashore, and contributes to the supply of illegal drugs on our streets. We’re asking the public to help us stop smuggling by reporting any suspicious activity,” said Stump.

The money earned from smuggling, and the illegal activities related to it, have been cited as a destabilizing influence in Mexico and causes tremendous harm to communities on both sides of the border. Illegal drug and human trafficking places federal, state, and local law enforcement officers as well as private citizens in danger.

The public is urged to report suspicious maritime activity by calling 911, or call the Department of Homeland Security Tip Line at 415-426-8815. All calls to the Tip Line are confidential and callers may remain anonymous if they choose.

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