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Hundreds of Floating Bales of Marijuana Recovered in Dana Point Harbor

Orange County sheriff's deputies were called to assist Border Patrol agents and the Coast Guard on Sunday afternoon.

U.S. Border Patrol Agents recovered hundreds of bales of marijuana Sunday with a street value of more than $3 million off the Orange County coast, a sheriff's lieutenant said.

The bales were found floating by a boater about noon Sunday, approximately 13 miles off Dana Point, Orange County Sheriff's Department Lt. Joe Balicki said.

"It kind of makes you wonder how it got there," Balicki said. "We didn't have any reports of vessels in distress."

The 160 bales weighed about 7,000 to 8,000 pounds, Balicki said.

Seizing the narcotics is the result of the joint effort between federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities working within one regional coordinating group to stop illegal maritime activity along the Southern California coastline, said Jackie Wasiluk, spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Shortly before noon Sunday, maritime law enforcement authorities received a tip about suspicious bales floating in the water.

Jerry Conlin, a spokesperson for the U.S. Border Patrol, told The Huffington Post that the discovery was "not normal" because officials didn't see a boat or high-speed chase near the abandoned bales.

"To find that much out there floating in the water is not normal," said Conlin. "There have been no arrests made at this moment, and there's no vessel that's been seized. It is an ongoing investigation."

Conlin, who has been working for the Border Patrol for seven years, says he's never seen a haul like this. The U.S. Border Patrol estimates that the discovered marijuana is worth $4.03 million.

The article in the Huffington Post also reports: "Altogether, the Coastguard, ICE, local harbor patrols, Border Patrol and any other law enforcement agency in the maritime realm has seen a recent increase in ocean drug smuggling. According to the U.S. Border Patrol, combined figures from all of these agencies show that in 2008, there were a total of 45 known smuggling events and 203 apprehensions related to maritime narcotics smuggling. In 2011, those figured jumped to 183 events and 631 apprehensions."

Orange County resident Patty Fields, who sent Patch photos said she just happened to be at the harbor around the same time as the discovery.

"I couldn't believe it, we were headed out on a boat and someone said, 'wow, look at that, so I turned and starting taking photos," she said.

The tip was called in to the regional maritime coordinating group. If you see something similarly suspicious, call (310) 521-3801.

Kyle Banashek May 21, 2012 at 02:04 PM
ehh, not sure anyone was 'caught'...I think Dana Point should sell their finding to the clinics and use the proceeds towards the harbor revitalization project.
Marc Schroeder May 21, 2012 at 02:49 PM
"All the medical clinics"? Perhaps you would care to enlighten your fellow readers as to where they are? Are far as I know, there is only 1 in San Clemente and none in Dana Point. Also, there was no one "caught" so I can only guess as to where your happiness comes from. Booze or Jesus?
Joker Joe May 21, 2012 at 02:56 PM
What is below is actually funny. They gave themselves more credit than the person who called it in. If it wasn't for him they would of had a duhhhh moment. Seizing the narcotics is the result of the joint effort between federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities working within one regional coordinating group to stop illegal maritime activity along the Southern California coastline, said Jackie Wasiluk, spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Joker Joe May 21, 2012 at 03:00 PM
This is even funnier.... lol It kind of makes you wonder how it got there," Balicki said. "We didn't have any reports of vessels in distress." Gee. If I was in distress with all those bales of dope I would of called in so I could be put in jail.....
Lindsey Hanson May 21, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Man o Man where was I?
Richard Shean May 21, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Dry it out, sell it and give the money to the state to offset our idiot govnor's need to raise taxes.
Richard Shean May 21, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Dry it out, sell it and give the $ to the State to offset what our incompetent governor's desire to raise taxes
Joker Joe May 21, 2012 at 05:11 PM
I seldom agree with anyone but you are right about the "idiot" part....
Eduardo the Magnificent May 21, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Feeling eerie mon. De got me Ganja.
Matt Gaffney May 21, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Amazing, right offshore from the Doheny Blues Festival. Could there be a correlation?
Al May 21, 2012 at 11:08 PM
At the estimated street value this stuff comes out to like 450 a lb not nothing the clinics could sell , this stuff more likely was being shipped back east I'd say !
spencer May 22, 2012 at 06:22 AM
Oh Jah,good herbs lost I would have dreamt of this shore
Debbie Tharp May 22, 2012 at 10:05 AM
It is very hard to resist the immature jokes that want to come out of me at a moment like this, such as, so that's where my ex boyfriend's stash went! I guess I didn't put enough bricks in the bales, or booyaa! In all honesty though, I agree with the couple of readers above who want to sell it to the clinics except that I would say just donate it to the patients that need it, rather than selling it. While the stuff at the clinics is still cheaper for them and safer than most prescription painkillers or appetite stimulants that don't work as well, the cost for the patient can add up when collectives sell it at close to, or even above street value. Better yet, just legalize it and force the criminals to find some other way to make a living. I'm tired of lining gang members pockets with our tax dollars.
Jacklad May 22, 2012 at 10:21 AM
You guys are lucky, I live in the north of England and our towns are awash with Pakistan heroin. It ruins our community with the crime needed to fund addiction. Church's are being turned into mosques, corrupt Pakistani police chief , corrupt Pakistani council officials . We need help , sure ganja is bad , but heroin is the devil himself . You can't just take it and leave it, your body will need it to function normal daily tasks. Educate your children to say NO
Jacklad May 22, 2012 at 10:32 AM
You guys are lucky, I live in the north of England and our towns are awash with Pakistan heroin. It ruins our community with the crime needed to fund addiction. Church's are being turned into mosques, corrupt Pakistani police chief , corrupt Pakistani council officials . We need help , sure ganja is bad , but heroin is the devil himself . You can't just take it and leave it, your body will need it to function normal daily tasks. Educate your children to say NO. Feels like payback time for what our ancestors did in the opium wars !
Joker Joe May 22, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Rumor has it that the ATF was sending the marijuana to Mexico to buy back their guns. On second thought, the Mexicans said they already had plenty of marijuana so the ATF dumped the stuff in the ocean rather then risk bringing it back. And that is why no boats signaled for help!!!
Joker Joe May 22, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Your first problem is immigration. We have the same problem in California (U.S.) The federal government will not secure the borders. The president is a Muslim so now we can marry the same sex. The military is openly gay. Racism is rampant. Maybe you guys can get the hint from us....
Joker Joe May 22, 2012 at 05:00 PM
The problem with legalizing it is if driving and smoking your senses are not the same. Hate to see someone die or get injured by a smoker. If they stayed at home I might consider it.
Jodi Barber May 22, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Uh, excuse me mister, I corrected myself already, thank you very much Eamon!!
Yeparoo May 22, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Bo Bo - No, it was a simple misunderstanding. Suite A ordered 16 bales, not 160. This happens frequently in these operations. When Suite A found out how much Big Brown was charging to return, they ditched the extras.
ms.sc. May 23, 2012 at 06:09 AM
Bo Bo, I agree with you and Jacklad, it sounds like a scary hell you live in. I pray your community finally finds the reality it needs. Your community sounds like a nightmare.
ms.sc. May 23, 2012 at 06:17 AM
After looking at the photos, there is no way in h#$$ this was an accident! Some drug thugs were pissed off at each other and one of them got even...idiots.
Joker Joe May 24, 2012 at 03:52 PM
I admit I was wrong.
ZepolD15 May 29, 2012 at 02:44 AM
most likely there was twice the amount of bales hauled in and only half was logged and reported . Looks like an early retirement for someone.
ms.sc. July 09, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Great post southcountynative! I agree with you. This is only going to get worse if it IS made legal. Mexico and other Countries are trying to infiltrate the United States with illegal drugs, whether it be by land, sea or air.. even tunnels. We need to have diligent, sharp law enforcement to keep the boundaries safe. Since 1997 our Federal Government became more aware of individuals in rural communities that involve Mexico...Mexico, via FedEx was importing meth. in "boom-boxes" to northern states in the U.S. The drug dealers and cartel are getting more clever...their greed and drug use is fueling them. Let us hope and pray our Law Enforcement and our local communities are even more desparate to keep our future youth on the right track. Our eco-system is already a factor our future youth will have to deal with thanks to our past global-warming naiviety, mistakes and pollution. Let us at least, educate our youth on the dangers of mind-altering substances and keep society safer, whether it is in our country or not. Drug abuse in any shape or form, in any part of the world only is a one way street. Dead End.

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