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Local News

Abandoned Panga Boat Found in Water Off Montecito

Sheriff's Department asks public to report any suspicious vessels seen in the ocean

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department is asking for the public’s help with information about an abandoned panga boat found Wednesday morning off the coast in Montecito.

The boat was found floating more than 200 yards offshore near Fernald Point, and though no people were found during a search of the shoreline, Sheriff’s Department officials said several life vests were seen onshore. As many as 20 people may have been on the boat at one time.

The Sheriff’s Department has had several reports of the panga boats seen offshore recently. An abandoned panga boat was seen off the coast of Refugio Beach in January, and another was found last fall off the Gaviota Coast.

Law enforcement say the boats are commonly used by fishermen in developing countries and have become increasingly popular with smugglers transporting illegal immigrants, narcotics or other contraband from Mexico to the United States. The boat discovered Wednesday will be turned over to the federal government.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department is asking the public to 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 toll-free 24-hour tip line at 866.DHS.2ICE.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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