LOS ANGELES – On June 12, 2020, four Mexican nationals were named in a federal grand jury indictment charging them with possessing and intending to distribute more than 4,700 pounds of marijuana, which they allegedly transported on a fishing boat that landed on a Santa Barbara County beach.
“These boats often come to shore in the middle of the night and that is something law enforcement, including California State Parks rangers keep an eye out for,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “They work with local and federal agencies to combat this ongoing problem.”
The indictment charges four men, all of Sinaloa, Mexico, with one count of possession with intent to distribute at least 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, a crime that carries a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment and mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
- Alejo Garcia-Moreno, 54;
- Benito Garcia-Moreno, 59,
- Mario Sainz-Aranzubia, 44,
- Benny Zazueta-Sainz, 28,
According to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint in this matter, on the evening of March 11, a law enforcement airplane observed an open-bowed fishing vessel known as a “panga boat,” loaded with suspected narcotics and traveling toward Goleta. The four defendants later were identified as being the boat’s crewmembers.
The panga boat landed at Hollister Ranch Beach in Goleta at approximately 1:15 a.m. on March 12, according to the affidavit. In addition to the crew members on the panga boat, law enforcement saw 14 additional individuals on the beach, as well as two other people on a hill who appeared to be conducting counter-surveillance of law enforcement activity, according to the affidavit. Once the boat landed, the 14 non-crew members on the beach offloaded bales of marijuana from the boat and moved the bales to multiple vehicles waiting nearby, according to court documents.