Federal agents seize 630 pounds of meth, 940 pounds of marijuana in 3 busts near border


Federal border agents in San Diego thwarted three narcotic smuggling trips — one on land, two in the water — over the weekend, seizing about 630 pounds of methamphetamine and nearly a half-ton of marijuana.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Border Patrol announced it had nabbed just over 100 pounds of meth at a freeway checkpoint, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the two ocean encounters, where officers found the marijuana and the balance of the meth.

In one ocean interdiction, agents said they shot out the engine of a fleeing panga boat after it rammed their vessel.


That incident started just after midnight Saturday when a team of customs agents and Coast Guard members spotted the boat off the San Diego coast, headed north, and launched a small boat to intercede.

But the panga boat ran into the pursuing vessel and, according to a news release from Customs and Border Protection, also ran into a second boat that had joined the chase.

Agents fired warning shots, then shot out the engine, stopping the panga boat about 12 miles off Oceanside. Authorities said they boarded the boat, arrested four people and seized 528 pounds of meth.

Hours later, on Saturday afternoon, agents and a Coast Guard crew boarded a fishing boat they deemed suspicious in the San Diego Bay channel. In a center console, they said they found 940 pounds of pot.

Also Saturday afternoon, miles inland, Border Patrol agents reported finding upward of 100 pounds of meth in an SUV.

About 2 p.m., a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee pulled up to the Interstate 8 checkpoint in Pine Valley, Calif. As Border Patrol agents questioned the 53-year-old driver, they said, a drug-sniffing dog got a hit on the vehicle.

A search turned up nearly 102 pounds of meth, agents said, spread among 98 packages hidden in the car, from three door panels to rear quarter panels to the cargo door and the spare tire. The driver was arrested.