At around 6:40 yesterday morning, a passerby driving on Highway101 observed a possible “Panga” boat on the shoreline of Tajiguas Beach, north of Refugio Beach and called 911. Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Deputies and Narcotics Detectives responded along with personnel from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), California State Parks and the U.S. Coast Guard, which provided air support. Investigators located a 30 foot abandoned “Panga” on the beach. A search of the area was conducted but no suspects were located. While no marijuana was seized, there was evidence of drug trafficking found at the scene.
HSI assisted in removing the vessel, which will be transported to Long Beach and booked as evidence. The Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Bureau is working with HSI to investigate the increase of “Panga” boat activity in our area, including Santa Barbara and SLO counties. This is the fourth “Panga” discovered in this general vicinity of Refugio State Beach in recent months. The last one was found on June 17th on Tajiguas Beach.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to be aware of the ever-growing problem and to please contact law enforcement to report suspicious boats in the ocean off Santa Barbara County or suspicious activity on Highway 101 where there is coastal/beach access.