LONG BEACH (CBS) — As security tightens at the land border between the U.S. and Mexico, the maritime border remains wide open.

CBS2 has learned 260 members of the National Guard are using special nighttime search equipment to help locate Mexican drug smugglers in small fishing boats called pangas.

“We have hundreds of miles of coastline,” says Homeland Security Special Agent Claude Arnold. “And they can’t be constantly patrolled without the assistance of our partners that include the National Guard.”

In the last two days, two panga boats were discovered along the SoCal coast.

Just before midnight Sunday, Guardsmen using an advanced thermal imaging system originally designed for Army scouts in Iraq discovered a darkened boat in an area where there is not usually traffic late at night.

The Guardsmen contacted Homeland Security and Border Patrol, whose agents seized the vessel.

Four undocumented passengers and nearly one ton of marijuana were found on board. The four men were arrested, as well as six additional suspected smugglers who were waiting on land to receive the illegal cargo.

“They’re desperate; they’re trying anything they can,” says Arnold. “We’re actually catching the smugglers and prosecuting them.”

Last year 26 pangas were seized between Ventura and Orange counties. In most cases, the smugglers had already gotten away. Officials hope the addition of the National Guard to the multi-agency state and federal task force will bring about more captures this year.

Comments (11)
  1. Pedro says:

    And there are those who complains that immigrants do not work hard, here’s your proof. We don’t mooch off of your state, we toil for our $$$

    1. Tango 99 says:

      Set an example with the ones in the boats and on shore waiting. Cancell all programming and hold a public execution. They committed two crimes, ILLEGALLY entering our Country and smuggling drugs. Next case please.

      1. Harry says:

        Legalize weed and this wouldn’t be an issue.

  2. Robt says:

    BTW, Obama is withdrawing 1200 National Guardsmen from the border. Someone must be complaining about the their success.

    1. Alan Di says:

      Obama has nothing to do with the National Guard.

      1. George Hilbert says:

        The national guard organizations of the states are under federal control. The federal govt pays most of their expenses, a deal worked out with the states many years ago with the passage of the Militia Act of 1903. So, the POTUS is their commander-in-chief.

  3. Smoke it, you might like it! says:

    Ah yes!
    Bunch of tea totalers!
    Legalize MJ and you take the bite out of the cartel. When will the people of the US learn? The 20’s were run by the mob, when we the people legalized beer, whine, and booz. they failed. Put controls on MJ, tax MJ, and the cartel fails.
    These pangas have been coming to so cal for years and will continue until we the people legalize MJ. Simple!

    1. Alan Di says:


  4. joette bermont says:

    i think is a good idea to protect young people. because drugs destroy this country.

  5. Jose Rodriguez says:

    Only mexican peopel can save america, we can run almost everything better than america. mexican is the best and strongest in the world.

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