LAGUNA BEACH – When California State Parks rangers discovered a panga boat that washed ashore in Crystal Cove State Park early June 19, 2018, they quickly accessed the seriousness of the situation, called in additional allied resources, and began searching for those who abandoned the boat.
“These types of panga boats that are showing up abandoned along California’s coastline are used by criminals who are smuggling drugs and people into our state and country,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “Safety for responding officers and the community in which the suspects have fled into are a top concern.”
According to reports, State Parks rangers were the lead law enforcement agency in the search for as many as nine suspects who abandoned the boat and fled into the park at around 6:30 a.m. After a search by several law enforcement agencies, four men found hiding in bushes were detained. All four are Mexican nationals and were transported to a Border Patrol facility.
Out of an abundance of caution, a nearby elementary school was placed on a “soft” lockdown meaning parents and school buses drivers were allowed to drop off students at the school. Laguna Beach Police Department kept officers on campus throughout the incident. Shortly before 10:00 a.m. the lockdown was lifted and normal operations resumed.