U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents thwarted a suspected smuggling attempt off the coast of Imperial Beach early Friday morning involving four jam-packed kayaks.
According to CBP officials, Office of Air and Marine (OAM) agents stopped the vessels at sea just after 4 a.m. When agents approached, the kayakers jumped out of their kayaks and attempted to swim to shore.
By 5 a.m., officials had found all four kayakers in the dark waters and arrested them on suspicion of smuggling marijuana.
CBP officials said agents searched the kayaks and discovered they were loaded with 99 bundles of marijuana. The pot weighed nearly 300 pounds and had an estimated street value of $178,200.
The four suspected smugglers were turned over to the San Diego Maritime Task Force.
OAM Director of Air and Marine Operations William Raymond said that although a kayak is an “unusual mode of transporting drugs in the maritime environment,” it isn’t the first non-traditional vessel agents have caught in the act.
“We also see the use of surfboards and jet skis,” said Raymond. “No matter what transnational criminal organizations choose to use, CBP remains vigilant in protecting our coastline.”
The maritime bust included assistance from officials across several agencies including the U.S. Border Patrol and the Joint Harbor Operational Center at U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego, as well as the CBP and OAM.