Orange County-based cutter recovers 336 pounds of marijuana

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. – The 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Narwhal returned this week from a patrol of the waters surrounding the U.S./Mexico border where they recovered four bales of marijuana weighing approximately 336 pounds.

On September 11, the Cutter Narwhal, homeported in Corona del Mar, California, was on a routine patrol when they received a report from Customs and Border Protection (CBP)of a 25-foot boat approximately 100 miles south of the U.S./Mexico border. It was reported that two or three people were on board, and that there were barrels of contraband visible aboard the boat.

Coast Guard Sector San Diego sent the Cutter Narwhal to intercept the vessel and launched an HH-60 helicopter from Air Station San Diego. The Mexican Navy also diverted a patrol boat to the area. The helicopter located the boat and began to vector the Mexican Navy to the location. As the agencies were closing in, the suspected smugglers turned towards Mexican territorial waters and began throwing the suspected bales of contraband off the vessel.

After the vessel entered Mexican waters, CBP and the Coast Guard lost sight of the vessel. The Coast Guard then focused their efforts on finding the bales that were thrown overboard. Due to low light conditions, it was extremely difficult to locate the floating contraband. With the assistance of the helicopter crew, who dropped a marker buoy at the spot where the marijuana had been jettisoned, the Narwhal was able to recover a portion of the marijuana thrown overboard.

LT Kristopher Ensley, the Commanding Officer of Narwhal, said that the success of the interdiction was due to the interagency cooperation from the Mexican Navy, CBP, and multiple Coast Guard units.

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