A boat carrying roughly a ton of bundled weed washed ashore in Southern California April 7. There was no one there to do anything useful with it.
A person was detained at the beach, put police didn’t say whether he was connected to the boat. A helicopter search by the U.S. Coast Guard didn’t turn up anyone else.
The boat is a 30-foot open fishing vessel with an outboard engine. It was spotted about 8 a.m. outside Leo Carrillo State Park, west of Malibu, near the line between Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Authorities couldn’t say exactly how much the loot weighed but speculated, based on what they could see, that it was about a ton. Depending on quality, that kind of weight could be worth several million dollars on the black market.
Smuggling runs have been common along the California coast in recent years. With legalization spreading, Mexican cartels may be slowly turning their attention to other drugs, but pot keeps coming into the Golden State.
In September, 18 people were arrested and more than 2,000 pounds of pot seized after a panga boat came ashore in Santa Barbara County. A truck carrying even more weed was stopped as part of that smuggling bust, though everyone inside got away.
Earlier in 2013, authorities found $4 million worth of marijuana bundles washed ashore, also near Santa Barbara. They found a panga boat nearby.
The year before, a U.S. Coast Guardsman was killed when a panga rammed the boat he was in. The Coast Guard was investigating the panga for drug smuggling, and ultimately seized marijuana and arrested two suspects.
Still, overall, statistics show smuggling cases are becoming less, not more common. The Coast Guard seized 124,500 pounds of weed in 2012 and just 81,000 in 2013.
There could be any number of reasons for that decline, but one possible explanation jumps out: Mexican smugglers may see the writing on the wall in the United States. They may realize the marijuana market is already slipping from their grasp. Instead, they’re turning to their other usual pursuits – heroin, cocaine, human trafficking – and wasting less time on weed.
Of course, this is exactly the impact pot proponents hoped and argued legalization would have.