Port Angeles-based cutter aids in seizure of 5,000 pounds of pot
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U.S. Coast Guard
Bales of marijuana that were seized during a smuggling interdiction are stacked on the deck of Coast Guard cutter Active on Dec. 2.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

SAN DIEGO — The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Active, based in Port Angeles, helped chase down a 30-foot fishing boat found to be carrying 5,000 pounds of marijuana off the coast of San Diego last week.

The “panga”-style fishing boat was spotted about 140 miles southwest of San Diego at about 3:40 p.m. Monday by a Sacremento-based Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules patrol plane, according to the Coast Guard.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Connie Gawrelli of Coast Guard Public Affairs in San Diego said she was not sure of the origin of the fishing boat, only that it came from the south.

After the fishing boat and its two occupants were spotted, a small interceptor boat from the 210-foot Active was launched to investigate, according to the Coast Guard.

The fishing boat reportedly did not stop when ordered to, Gawrelli said, so the crew aboard the interceptor boat used gunfire to disable the fishing boat's engines.

“They do a warning shot; if that doesn't work, they have to use a weapon to fire at the engines to disable the engines,” Gawrelli said.

The fishing boat, two suspected smugglers and 210 bales of marijuana then were transferred to the 87-foot cutter Sea Otter and taken to San Diego, according to the Coast Guard.

The suspects and drugs were turned over to the San Diego Marine Task Force, which includes federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, Gawrelli said.

The Active is assigned primarily to law enforcement and search-and-rescue duties, according to the ship's website, and can carry up to 72 crew members.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 07. 2013 6:23PM
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