"Super Tunnel" Shutdown Likely to Push Smugglers to the Sea: Agents

U.S Customs and Border Protection predicted there would be more seaside smuggling following the recent discovery of a border tunnel

By Elena Gomez and R. Stickney
|  Friday, Nov 8, 2013  |  Updated 2:42 PM PDT
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This is video shot at Torrey Pines State Beach after a panga was spotted coming ashore around 4:30 a.m. Friday, officials said.

This is video shot at Torrey Pines State Beach after a panga was spotted coming ashore around 4:30 a.m. Friday, officials said.

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Federal agents said they anticipated more attempts of illegal drug smuggling along San Diego’s coastline after the recent discovery of a border "super tunnel" and on Friday, that prediction appeared to prove true.

The U.S. Border Patrol agents confiscated 878 pounds of marijuana from a panga boat spotted off Torrey Pines State Beach north of San Diego around 3 a.m. Friday.

A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Blackhawk helicopter helped sea-bound agents intercept the panga as it came ashore around 4 a.m. near 7th Street in Del Mar.

Inside, they discovered 41 bundles of marijuana with an estimated street value of $526,000. As the agents searched the area, they also found one box truck and another vehicle associated with the smuggling.

Ten people were arrested and taken to the Border Patrol station for processing. The drugs, panga and vehicles were turned over to the CBP’s Office of Air and Marine.

Pangas are often used to smuggle illegal drugs and undocumented immigrants into the U.S. because of the number of them in Mexico and the boat’s low draw in the water, making it difficult to spot from shore.

Earlier in the week, CBP predicted there would be more seaside smuggling following the recent discovery of a border tunnel linking an Otay Mesa warehouse with a similar warehouse in Tijuana.

Read: Go Inside Super Tunnel at U.S./Mexico Border

While federal officials haven’t provided any confirmed information on the contents of the panga discovered Friday, workers could be seen offloading large blocks of goods that appeared to be wrapped in plastic.

The tunnel found near Drucker Lane in Otay Mesa stretched a third of a mile and was 35 feet underground.

Agents found more than eight tons of marijuana and 325 pounds of cocaine inside the tunnel, according to ICE.

Court documents obtained by NBC 7 show the group that built the tunnel stored illegal drugs in a Chula Vista warehouse almost 10 miles away.

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