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Boat with $3 million worth of marijuana seized in Channel Islands

A panga boat with nearly three tons of marijuana spotted in the Channel Islands; three men in custody

A panga boat stocked with nearly three tons of marijuana worth about $3 million was spotted in the Channel Islands, and three men on board -- all citizens of Mexico -- were arrested, authorities said Monday.

Alfonso Ramirez-Lopez, 40; Marco Montes-Lopez, 46; and Daniel Garcia-Sanchez, 32, are being held without bail on federal drug trafficking charges, according to U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles. 

The boat was spotted about 12:40 p.m. Saturday near San Miguel Island by an off-duty officer with the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, according to a sworn affidavit by a DEA agent obtained by The Times.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Black Hawk helicopter was deployed to the island, about 45 miles southwest of Santa Barbara. After the three suspected smugglers were spotted, the helicopter landed and the men were arrested, according to the affidavit.

The three men told federal agents that they were from Sinaloa and that they had been at sea for three days, according to the affidavit.

The men were paid $1,000 before the trip, and after delivering the bales of marijuana they expected to receive an additional $3,000, according to the affidavit.

The men expected to land near Monterey or San Simeon, but after running low on fuel, they stopped at the island.

The 40-foot-long panga boat was towed to the U.S. Coast Guard’s base in San Pedro.

The trio will be arraigned on April 10 and are scheduled to appear in court on April 6 for a preliminary hearing. 

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

6:14 p.m.: This story was updated with information on the court proceedings for the three accused smugglers.

This story was originally published at 5:43 p.m.

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