Improved Border Security Gives Rise to Cartel Panga Boats Along California Coast


On August 24, a video was released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M. Heitke from the San Diego Sector. The video showed a panga boat landing on the beach in Encinitas, California. Over a dozen people can be seen scrambling into a local neighborhood.

The video also provides a glimpse on the use of these boats in smuggling and trafficking operations along the California coast. This event also highlights a change in tactics. Normally, smugglers either transport drugs, people, or weapons. Today, it is common to see multiple illicit commodities smuggled at once.

Panga boats–also known as a shark or fishing boats–are used extensively by both smuggling and trafficking organizations in the Gulf of Mexico and on the California coast. The crafts have become more prevalent in recent years due to improvements in land border security.

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