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Abandoned Panga boat found off Refugio Beach in January 2012

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Abandoned Panga boat found off Refugio Beach in January 2012


Capps Urges Federal, Local Coordination to Combat Pangas

Drafts Letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano


Tuesday, December 11, 2012
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Congressmember Lois Capps and five of her colleagues in the California Congressional Delegation sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano yesterday voicing concern over increased panga activity in West Coast waters and asking for a sit-down with Homeland Security officials to discuss how federal authorities are coordinating with local law enforcement agencies.

The request comes just over a week after Coast Guard Chief Petter Officer Terrell Horne III was killed off the coast of Santa Cruz Island as he and his crew responded to a suspicious boat in Smuggler’s Cove. “While the tragic death of Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III has brought national attention to the issue of panga smuggling, California’s coastal communities, particularly the Central Coast, have faced a significant increase in the incidents of panga smuggling over the past two years,” said Capps in a prepared statement.

Below is Capps’s full letter to Napolitano:

Dear Secretary Napolitano,

We are writing to express our concern for the increased incidence of panga boat smuggling off the California coast and to request an update on what the federal government has done to date to prevent these boats from landing on American shores. The panga boat encounter off the coast of Santa Cruz Island on December 2, 2012 that led to Coast Guardsman Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III’s death has highlighted the danger of these smuggling vessels.

As you may know, over the last few years Mexican drug trafficking organizations have begun smuggling both drugs and people onto California shores using small boats called “pangas.” These open-top boats are typically twenty to forty-five feet in length and built for speed. Local law enforcement officials estimate that each boat carries at least 1 ton of illegal drugs, usually marijuana although methamphetamine smuggling has also been reported. In addition, undocumented immigrants have been smuggled on these boats. These individuals who have come from as far as China are a border security risk, but could also be victims of human trafficking.

Law enforcement and the media report that panga boat interceptions have been on the rise. According to data kept by U.S. Border Patrol, in fiscal year 2011, 57 panga events off southern California were reported. To date in fiscal year 2012 already 64 events have been reported. They have been found up the California coast as far as San Francisco, and due to the increase in enforcement in the southern California region an increasing number have also been landing on the Central Coast. This increase is cause for concern, especially given the possibility for these boats to smuggle more dangerous cargo, like weapons and potential terrorists.

Unfortunately, it is hard to estimate the true prevalence of these boats as we can only count those intercepted by law enforcement or that are found abandoned on our shores. In that way, the issue could be even worse and yet we know nothing about them.

Given the risk these boats present and the tragedy that occurred on December 2, 2012, we are writing to request a briefing on the work of DHS, including the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, to combat the rise in drug and human smuggling from panga boats. We are interested in gaining a complete picture of the resources and tools at your disposal to address the threats these vessels pose and to learn how the federal government works with local and state officials to protect our shores. This is a unique security project involving local, state, and federal resources that must work together to be successful. We look forward to your prompt response.

Thank you for all you do to protect the citizens of the United States. We stand ready to work with you to ensure that we are doing all we can to keep our citizens and our coastline safe.

Sincerely,

Lois Capps

Comments

Independent Discussion Guidelines

Legalize drugs and you eliminate most of the pangas, duh. But I guess too many people have financially invested interests in seeing this Panga War continue.
I know you're not a stupid person Rep. Capps, stop pretending to be one with by continually to support this increasingly indefensible war on drugs. You can bet on a primary challenger(s) next time round if you don't.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 11, 2012 at 12:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

well, trafficking in illegal immigrants is also a big part of these panga wars: see the report today about 35 undocumented aliens in a super-panga that floated in off of Palos Verdes Peninsula...

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 11, 2012 at 1:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Legalize drugs? which ones? all of them? certainly not. What about the war on human trafficking? Pretty unsafe trafficking at that. Good job on the letter Rep. Capps!

I am certain you can get IR equipment from a local company, that has already been used by others to protect their shorelines. And it works very well. It is all about the money. The world is a much less safer and more mobile place. It is time for that investment. Who knows, might save a bunch of lives.

This is not just about reefer.

bimboteskie (anonymous profile)
December 11, 2012 at 1:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What do you think the ratio of human vs narcotic contraband is?
Bimboteskie is quite right, it's not about "reefer" or any specific substance but common sense.
LIke I say, take away their business and you elminate most of the risks. Enforce immigration laws in employment and housing (and driver's licenses.) But yes, legalize all because Prohibition has never worked. If people are gonna be foolish they're already foolish.
Instead more innocent people will likely die until people get a backbone.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 11, 2012 at 1:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Bimboteskie missed the point in his comment "it's all about the money". As Richard Nixon stated and Sheriff Bill Brown has demonstrated, "Who says the War on Drugs is a failure. It's been an incredible boon for the prison-industrial complex". (Watergate tapes)
Panga boats offloaded cocaine to shore boats at Hollister Ranch 30 years ago - nothing new here.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
December 11, 2012 at 1:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's the same as the rum runners of the 20's and 30's bringing whiskey to our shores. Just history repeating itself again.

SaveMoreMesa (anonymous profile)
December 11, 2012 at 1:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

And politicians back then behaved the same as well, many of their names have been forgotten.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 11, 2012 at 2:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Re-legalize drugs?...no, it's too logical, and people love our career politicians and career ideas.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
December 11, 2012 at 2:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Time for some career changes then. How bout it Bill?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 11, 2012 at 3:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It may not really be about illegals or drugs, they're symptoms. Underlying is the wealth inequities between humans dwelling in an area termed "Mexico" and those of us living in golden alta California. The free movement of peoples and social groups across areas and boundaries has always happened: Lapps, Roma, Armenians, look at the changing map of eastern Europe, esp. after W.W. I.
Maybe the start of a solution is much much heavier investment in legitimate businesses in Mexico to foster better jobs there...?
Yes, the iron river of our guns heading south of the border while their reefer and other ganja head north. KV and Bill are right, legalize most of that stuff right now, imitate Washington State, tax the heck out of it, purify it, clean it up, eliminate the gang-control.
But you esp. Bill try to see that we really do also need even more stringent gun safety and gun control laws. I know the torrent of abuse that will ensure after scribbling this. But I loved it when Bob Costas went visceral on this issue, asking why we don't restrict weapons more, like most civilized countries do?
We should expect to have more and more super-pangas coming up here. Those people want jobs up near the core of empire, and the affluent citizens can afford their choice of drugs, sometimes there are humans and bales of weed in the same panta.
Capps's letter is nice but mostly useless. Perhaps citizen surveillance -- everyone owns a cell but me -- and a hotline number to call in panga sightings out off our coast?? Could be cheap to do.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 11, 2012 at 5:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

DrDan: Is lack of gun control an issue? I say this because I think the simpler approach is to look back on what we--and when I say "we"--I have to include both countries were doing differently. (Let's face it, the U.S. and Mexico are intertwined whether people like it or not)

I think your suggestion about investing in legitimate businesses is a good start, and I'd add that what little I know about NAFTA tells me that NAFTA has been very bad for non-wealthy on both sides of the borders.

To put it more simply, why wasn't this a problem a few years ago, and why is it now?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
December 11, 2012 at 7:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

By all accounts it's nothing new; there's just suddenly been an urgency about it the last few years and now this young man has died.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 11, 2012 at 7:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Capp's releasing this of letter to the media reeks a bit of grandstanding to me. She should already know the measures that Homeland Security is taking , and not have to ask in a letter that is then released to the public.
It is a fair bet that Capp's level of concern is commensurate to the pressure that Sheriff has applied to her.

geeber (anonymous profile)
December 12, 2012 at 3:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree that "The war on drugs" is a complete failure and that Marijuana should be legal. But the question no one seems to ask, including our police is, who is getting the drugs from these boats when they land? There has to be people, trucks, and a beach to off load the tons of weed. It is hard to believe thay haven't gotten one of the Mexican Nationals caught in the boats to tell who they were delivering the drugs to and where. What's up with that?

dontoasthecoast (anonymous profile)
December 12, 2012 at 5:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

why cant we just shoot at will on these boats. No one will care about the smugglers. Problem solved.

tacobellmike (anonymous profile)
December 12, 2012 at 11:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Uhm because they could be innocent people on a fishing trip.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 12, 2012 at 11:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Bill, tacobellmike's idea of just "shooting at will" shows me how far the gun culture has gone... gee, there were 35 people on the superpanga found off of Palos Verdes a couple of days ago...hey, let's just rake it with gun fire...problem solved. You want to live in a country like that? Or a country with people like Oblati in it who hate and detest teachers? cool

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 12, 2012 at 11:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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