Border Patrol: "An unusual discovery"
By ERIKA I. RITCHIE / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
DANA POINT – Hundreds of marijuana bales valued by officials at more than $3.6 million were recovered after being seen floating in the ocean near Dana Point Harbor on Sunday, officials said.
The floating bales were first seen by a boater near the harbor around 12:01 p.m., U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Seth Johnson said. The bales were reportedly floating at least 15 miles off shore.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department sent three Harbor Patrol ships to aid in recovering the marijuana. A Coast Guard cutter was also sent to assist.
Border Patrol spokesman Michael Jimenez said his agency took possession of more than 8,000 pounds recovered by the sheriff's Orange County Harbor Patrol and estimated the value at more than $3 million. That does not count the marijuana that the Coast Guard has recovered, Jimenez said. Those details are expected on Monday.
The investigation into how the bales made it into the ocean is continuing. No suspects or vessel have been identified.
Jimenez called Sunday's incident unusual. In most scenarios when marijuana bales are found dumped in the water it is because a vessel is trying to flee from authorities.
"At other events, they've dumped the bales to get rid of weight if they're being chased," he said. "Generally in these cases we're aware they're being dumped. What's more unusual is that the bales were floating with no boat in sight."