DANA POINT, Calif. (AP) — Authorities have seized hundreds of bales of marijuana that were floating in the ocean off of Southern California. A boater spotted the bales around noon Sunday about 15 miles off the coast of Dana Point. Orange County authorities and the Coast Guard sent boats out to gather up the pot and turn it over to the U.S. Border Patrol.
The U.S. Coast Guard, Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Border Patrol recovered 180 bales of marijuana weighing 8,068 pounds (3,660 kg).
It’s unclear who dumped the pot. Authorities say there was no boat in sight and they didn’t get any distress calls from a vessel. Found in a spot though that is a smuggling route increasingly used by Mexican drug traffickers.
“This is unusual, you don’t usually find a large quantity of marijuana like that,” said Jerry Conlin, a spokesman for the San Diego sector of the U.S. Border Patrol.
The California coastal strip has become a common corridor for Mexican smugglers who, trying to beat beefed up security on the land borders, haul marijuana and even illegal immigrants north by sea from Mexico in fishing boats.
While tossing drug loads is common off the Caribbean coast of Central America, where traffickers in fast boats frequently hurl cocaine loads into the sea when challenged by the U.S. Coast Guard, finding such a large load is a rare event in California waters. Conlin said there had been no reports of pot washing up on California beaches. “It’s believed that they recovered all the bundles that were out there,” he said.