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$1.79 million in pot seized in Laguna smuggling bust, feds say

February 6, 2013 | 10:45 am

U.S. Homeland Security special agents have apprehended nine men suspected of attempting to smuggle $1.79 million in marijuana from a boat off Crystal Cove State Park in south Orange County.

Border Patrol agents reported that they recovered 26 bundles of marijuana with an estimated street value of $1.79 million in the incident early Monday, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection release. The bundles weighed 1,197 pounds.

Agents were patrolling the coastline around midnight Monday when they observed a panga-style fishing boat off El Moro Bay in Laguna Beach.

The boat came ashore at Crystal Cove, and agents said they watched seven men get off the boat and unload two bundles onto the beach. Two other men were spotted getting out of a parked GMC Yukon and helped unload bundles from the boat.

Homeland Security special agents took the nine suspects into custody for questioning. Six of the suspects are from the U.S. and range in age from 22 to 45; two are from Mexico, ages 23 and 40; and one is from Guatemala, age 24. Customs and Border Protection did not provide names of the suspects.

All nine are being held on suspicion of possession of illicit drugs. The two suspects from Mexico and one from Guatemala are also charged with illegal entry into the U.S., Customs and Border Protection spokesman Ralph DeSio wrote in an email.

Authorities seized both the boat and vehicle.


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Photo: Some of the bundles authorities said were unloaded from a boat. Credit: U.S. Border and Customs Protection.