Three Marijuana Smuggling Suspects in Custody After Pursuit Off Malibu

Video captured from shore showed three figures aboard the boat tossing large bundles

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An ocean pursuit off Malibu led to the capture of three smuggling suspects. Annette Arreola reports from Marine del Rey for NBC4's Today in LA on April 25, 2012. (Published Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012)

    Three marijuana smuggling suspects aboard a panga boat were in Department of Homeland Security custody Wednesday after an ocean pursuit off the coast of Malibu.

    Lifeguards called the Malibu-Lost Hills Sheriff's Station at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday to report a suspicious boat about 50 feet from Latigo Beach. Deputies reported the case to the Department of Homeland Security, which deployed aerial and marine units.

    The boaters, identified by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency as Mexican nationals, were caught about two miles out to sea.

    Video showed bundles being tossed overboard as the boat moved away from shore. Authorities later confirmed that the bundles contained marijuana -- about 20 pounds per bundle.

    The 80 bundles were valued at more than $1 million.

    The boat was towed to Marina Del Rey.

    The case was the fourth maritime smuggling operation thwarted off the Southern California coast since Saturday, according to authorities.

    There is more security along the U.S.-Mexico border, so smugglers are looking for other routes, according to authorities.

    "They go 150 miles out to avoid detection, then come east to the U.S.," said Ross Feinstein, of ICE. "It's very dangerous. There are no lights, no navigational aids. We've seen them land as far north as Santa Barbara."

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