San Luis Obispo, CA — Congresswoman Lois Capps. Along with Congressman Henry A. Waxman and Congresswoman Janice Hahn wrote to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to express their concern about increased panga boat smuggling on the California coast and to request a briefing with DHS officials to explore the federal role in our coast security. Specifically, the lawmakers are requesting to be updated on the actions that DHS, including the U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Border Patrol, are taking to combat increased panga smuggling off the coast of California and how the agency is coordinating with state and local law enforcement. This, on the heels of an incident off Catalina where a panga boat recently rammed a Coast Guard vessel, killing one of its occupants.
“While the tragic death of Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III has brought national attention to the issue of panga smuggling, California’s coastal communities, particularly the Central Coast, have faced a significant increase in the incidents of panga smuggling over the past two years,” said Congresswoman Lois Capps. “Protecting against panga smuggling requires coordination at the federal, state, and local law levels and it is critical to ensure we are all on the same page. I want to urge DHS officials to redouble their efforts to address this issue and will continue to push for more federal support to help our local law enforcement officials address this growing problem.”
In July, Capps hosted a meeting between federal and local law enforcement to discuss the increased incidents of panga smuggling, how best to focus limited resources, and how to better coordinate law enforcement efforts between federal, state, and local governments.