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Pot Smuggler’s Boat Capsizes Off Beach Near Santa Cruz

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SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) — Authorities recovered 80 pounds of marijuana Monday from a smuggler’s boat driven from Mexico that capsized off a beach in Santa Cruz County with most of its drug cache missing, a sheriff’s deputy said.

Around 11 a.m. Monday, Santa Cruz sheriff’s deputies, California State Parks, the California Highway Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard were notified of an overturned boat in the area of Four Mile Beach in Santa Cruz County, Deputy Ryan Kennedy said.

The person who reported seeing the 20-foot boat called out of concern for the safety of anyone on the craft, Kennedy said.

When emergency responders reached the boat, they brought it ashore and while searching for its occupants, found four 20-pound packages of marijuana in the area worth about $96,000, Kennedy said.

Sheriff’s deputies also recovered six 12-gallon gas containers and learned that some of the liquid had spilled into the ocean, Kennedy said.

From an investigation, deputies believe that the occupants of boat drove it in the ocean from Mexico, arrived at the shore of the beach earlier in the morning and delivered most of the contents to others before the boat capsized while still in the water, Kennedy said.

The suspects then had to abandon the 80 pounds of the drug and other packages that fell and sank into the water as the boat swayed in rough waves, Kennedy said.

The boat is capable of carrying a few thousand pounds of marijuana and probably many more pounds were unloaded because it is not worth it to sail up the coast from Mexico to deliver only 80 pounds, Kennedy said.

According to Kennedy, it is possible that as the boat was being unloaded, it became lighter and the powerful surf hit it and caused it to turn over.

No one has been arrested in the smuggling operation, Kennedy said.

Smugglers from Mexico are able to make stops on nearly deserted beaches in Santa Cruz County and other counties along the California coast with access roads for vehicles to pick up the bundles, Kennedy said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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