Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 3:57 am | Fair 42º


Local News


2 Men Arrested After Panga Carrying Marijuana Bales Discovered on Gaviota Coast

Men from Riverside area arrested for possession, transportation and sale of marijuana related to the panga abandoned on beach

A panga boat was discovered on a Gaviota Coast beach Monday morning with marijuana bales found inside and nearby.
A panga boat was discovered on a Gaviota Coast beach Monday morning with marijuana bales found inside and nearby.  (Paul Mihalec / KEYT News photo)

Two men were arrested Monday morning in connection to a panga boat found on Gaviota State Park land, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said. 

It's a 30-foot, two-engine panga boat that was spotted by a resident walking their dog around 9 a.m., she said. 

Sheriff's deputies responded and found a bale of marijuana inside the boat, as well as another one nearby. Fuel cans were also found in the boat and in the water. 

Authorities detained two men in the area and found possessions of the boat occupants near the boat landing, Hoover said. 

James Pierce
James Pierce

Francisco Soltero, 32, and James Pierce, 38, both from the Riverside area, were booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of being under the influence of a controlled substance, and possession, transportation and sale of marijuana, Hoover said. 

The boat was found at San Onofre Beach, on Gaviota State Park land. The case is being investigated by Homeland Security and the Sheriff's Department and the federal agency took possession of the boat, Hoover said.

Francisco Soltero
Francisco Soltero

California State Parks also responded to the scene and the U.S. Coast Guard and Santa Barbara County Air Support assisted with flyovers of the area.  

Panga boat discoveries are fairly common among the southern Santa Barbara County coast and the Channel Islands. 

Three men were arrested and about $3 million in marijuana was seized when a boat was intercepted at San Miguel Island March 22, the most recent local incident. 

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli 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.

Authorities found possessions of the panga boat occupants in the area of the abandoned boat at San Onofre Beach. Click to view larger
Authorities found possessions of the panga boat occupants in the area of the abandoned boat at San Onofre Beach.  (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)
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