EXCLUSIVE: 'Operation Stonegarden' helps secure US border in water

EMBED </>More Videos

Under 'Operation Stonegarden,' Orange County Sheriff's Harbor Patrol deputies have screened 300 boats for weapons of mass destruction, seized 800 pounds of marijuana and apprehended 75 undocumented immigrants in the last three months.

In the vast ocean surrounding the Orange County coast, sheriff's department Harbor Patrol deputies fight a war on terror few people know about.

"We have seen narcotics on boats, we've seen loaded weapons on boats, people with warrants," Sgt. Kenneth Olszewski said.

In response to the 9/11 attacks, several federal and state agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, created "Operation Stonegarden."

Local law enforcement like the Orange County Sheriff's Department received grants to secure the United States border in the water. The operation includes interception of possible terrorist activity and stopping the smuggling of drugs and undocumented immigrants.

"Our borders here in Orange County, having over 50 miles of shoreline, attempting to secure those borders requires a multi-agency response," Olszewski said.

Eyewitness News was the only TV crew allowed on a ride-along with Harbor Patrol and members of the SWAT team. Officials stopped nearly every boat in sight for a routine check. SWAT officers boarded the boats, then asked for paperwork and looked for anything suspicious. Many of the people that were stopped thanked officers for their work.

"It's the bad guys bringing it across. They're not helping the community out at all, so that needs to be stopped," said Hoy Ledoux of Los Angeles.

In just the last three months, officials have screened 300 boats for weapons of mass destruction, seized 800 pounds of marijuana and apprehended 75 undocumented immigrants.

"A lot of stuff does cross, people do cross illegally, and as far as the residents of Orange County know, we're securing their borders," Olszewski said.

With the huge area Harbor Patrol must cover, deputies want to remind people to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity in the water.

Related Topics:
orange county sheriff's departmentdrugsimmigrationterrorismdepartment of homeland securityOrange CountyDana Point
(Copyright ©2017 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)