Suspected drug smuggling boat found on Carlsbad beach

CARLSBAD, Calif. — A panga boat apparently carrying bundles of illegal drugs washed ashore in Carlsbad early Tuesday, and a search was under way for a person believed to have jumped into the ocean, authorities said.

The discovery was made at South Ponto Beach just after 2 a.m., according to Border Patrol officials. As of 9:45 a.m., Carlsbad and Encinitas fire department personnel continued to search for the suspect.

The search was being conducted by boat, personal water craft and helicopter, Carlsbad city spokeswoman Kristina Ray said.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, a person could be expected to survive about 11 hours under today’s water and air temperature conditions. The water temperature off South Ponto Beach this mid-morning was 56 degrees, Ray said.

Because of the search, the parking lot at South Ponto State Beach and the upper parking lot at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas were closed to the public this morning.

In addition to the apparent drug bundles, two people were found on the boat and taken to an area hospital so they could be treated for hypothermia, border officials said.

Today marked the second day in a row a suspecting smuggling operation was foiled off the North County coast.

Early Monday, eight suspected illegal immigrants and three U.S. citizens were detained when a panga landed in Del Mar. Border Patrol agents spotted the boat heading north off the coast of Torrey Pines about 1:30 a.m., and several people were caught shortly afterward while climbing up cliffs with flashlights near 11th Street in Del Mar, border officials said.

The panga was seized and its navigator was taken into custody, according to Border Patrol Agent Steven Pitts. Two vehicles found nearby were seized, he said.

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