Should the USA close the Southern Border

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Marijuana bales seized in cove on Catalina Island

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 3:54 p.m.
LOS ANGELES — A beachcomber in a lonely Santa Catalina Island cove wasn't looking for shells. Authorities said he was guarding 1,500 pounds of marijuana.
Deputies seized 31 bales of pot on Tuesday and arrested a Mexican citizen on suspicion of possessing and transporting marijuana, Capt. Jeff Donahue said Wednesday.
"This guy's looking at least 10 years" in prison if he is convicted, Donahue said. The man was not immediately identified.
A sheriff's deputy and a park ranger who were "just hanging out" spotted the man at remote Little Harbor, Donahue said.
The man went back to a cove where there were blue tarpaulins and "bales of something," but when the authorities approached he tried to hide, the captain said.
A helicopter was called in to help deputies spot the fugitive. He was finally found hiding in crevasses in a rocky area.
The plastic-wrapped bales turned out to be Mexican marijuana with an estimated street value of $1.5 million.
A boat that apparently was used to land the pot was found on the north side of the island. It likely was forced there by bad weather.
"Obviously, we had a lot of rain and storms in the past few days," he said. "He was just waiting to be picked up."
Catalina draws ferry-loads of tourists, boaters, scuba divers and hikers from around the world. The quaint city of Avalon features scenic harbors, surging kelp gardens and back-country wilderness.
But when the weather's bad, it also attracts smugglers forced to seek shelter, Donahue said.
In April 2010, authorities seized 4,000 pounds of marijuana and arrested three men who claimed they were abandoned after paying a smuggler to bring them to the U.S.
They were later sentenced to about 10 years in prison.
As the United States has strengthened security at the border, Mexican smugglers have turned to the sea, outfitting so-called panga boats to run up the coast from Baja California with cargoes of dope or illegal immigrants.
"It used to be San Diego. Now, they're working their way up higher," Donahue said.
Information from: Press-Telegram,