SAN DIEGO — Federal agents, aided by the U.S. Coast Guard, intercepted four kayaks loaded with marijuana early Friday as they headed for the coast in Imperial Beach, officials said.
Border Patrol agents patrolling the coast noticed the kayaks at about 4 a.m. The Coast Guard scrambled an helicopter and a patrol boat, and as they approached the kayaks, four people jumped from the boats and attempted to swim to shore, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The helicopter lighted up the swimmers with flood lights and all of the kayakers were taken into custody.
Meanwhile, the patrol boat rounded up the drifting kayaks. The yellow plastic boats had been painted black.
Investigators said all of the boats were packed with marijuana. In all, agents seized 99 bundles of marijuana weighing a total of 297 pounds. They estimated the street value of the drugs at more than $178,000.
“While a kayak is an unusual mode of transporting drugs in the maritime environment, as opposed to the more familiar panga, we also see the use of surfboards and jet skis,” William Raymond, Director of Air and Marine Operations for Customs and Border Protection.