Abandoned panga boat found at Point Mugu

Officials unload a panga boat that came ashore on Aug. 26, 2011 near Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu. 

An empty, overturned panga boat was found Tuesday morning abandoned near the county line at Point Mugu, officials said.

Authorities from Ventura County Sheriff’s and the State Parks and Recreation Departments responded to a call at 6:50 a.m. and found the boat at Thornhill Broome State Beach. 

Craig Sap, Angeles district superintendent for State Parks, said it was likely that whoever or whatever was in the boat came ashore “in the cover of night.” 

People and drugs are usually brought in this way,” Sap said. 

The boat was towed away from the scene and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took over the investigation, a spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department said. 

Smuggling via panga boats is a common problem along the Southern California Coast.

The smuggling activity turned fatal with the Dec. 2 death of Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, 34, when the panga he and his team were pursuing rammed the Coast Guard boat, knocking him overboard into a propeller off the coast of Port Hueneme. Two Mexican nationals were apprehended off the San Diego coast and charged in Los Angeles with killing the federal officer. 

Maritime smuggling activity in Southern California has steadily increased every year since 2008 when the government began keeping records ICE recorded 210 incidents in 2012, up from 121 incidents in 2010.