Abandoned Panga Boat Found in Water Off Montecito
Montecito Coast - February 2nd, 2012
At approximately 8:12am on Wednesday, February 1, 2012, the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office received multiple reports of a panga boat seen floating more than 200 yards off shore near Fernald Point in Montecito.
With assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol, it was determined that the 30-foot boat was unoccupied. No people were found during a search of the shoreline. However, the discovery of several life vests on shore, suggests that approximately 20 people may have been on board the boat at one time.
Panga boats are small open watercraft powered by one or more outboard motors. They are commonly used by fishermen in developing countries and have become increasingly popular with smugglers who are transporting, illegal immigrants, narcotics, or other contraband from Mexico to the United States.
Although relatively small in size (typically 19-30 feet), Panga boats are considered very sea worthy and have made illegal runs from Mexico to as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area. The panga boat discovered today will be turned over to the federal government.
The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to be aware of the growing problem and to please contact law enforcement if they see any suspicious boats in the ocean off Santa Barbara County. They can also call the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) toll-free 24-hour tip line at 1-866-DHS-2ICE.
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please contact Drew Sugars, Public Information Officer.
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