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Panga chase: 2 in custody; marijuana recovered

Two suspects in a panga boat are spotted off the coast of Malibu on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. (Bret Lanford)

August 15, 2013 11:19:16 AM PDT
The discovery of a panga boat led to an intense chase in the waters off Malibu Thursday morning. The suspected drug smugglers were finally captured near Leo Carrillo State Beach.

Coast Guard officials say lifeguards at Zuma Beach alerted authorities after seeing the panga boat very close to the shore after 6 a.m. and became suspicious. According to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, the boat headed back out to sea once they discovered deputies were waiting for them.

The U.S. Coast Guard pursued the panga, catching up to them near Leo Carrillo State Beach.

"It was a pretty fast pursuit. We don't have exact speeds at the moment, but it was pretty fast and intense," said Coast Guard Lt. Commander Juan Hernandez.

The suspects reportedly tried to dump their "cargo" as they fled. Authorities were able to recover 26 bales of marijuana.

Sheriff's officials say this was a major bust for law enforcement. The Coast Guard says the suspects were trying to bring the pot into the U.S. from Mexico. They say that attempts to smuggle drugs into the U.S. are on the rise.

"We encourage anyone to say something if they see something suspicious," Hernandez said.