Camo’d Fishing Kayaks Caught Smuggling 300 Pounds of Marijuana
By Paul Lebowitz
US Customs and Border Protection hauled in quite a load in late November: nearly 300 pounds of marijuana stashed in a four-some of custom camouflaged fishing kayaks.
The paddle-powered smugglers weren’t stealthy enough to beat the US Border Patrol. According to a CBP release, the four kayaks were detected as they entered US waters in the predawn darkness of 4:00 am.
An hour later, the smugglers were caught green-handed off Imperial Beach when an ASTAR helicopter illuminated them with a spotlight. They abandoned ship and attempted to swim to shore, but were rounded up by a patrol boat crew.
The recovered kayaks were stuffed with 99 bundles of marijuana worth some $178,000 on the street according to the CBP release.
CBP Office of Air and Marine Director William Raymond acknowledged that kayaks are unusual smuggling vessels, but didn’t seem impressed. "While a kayak is an unusual mode of transporting drugs in the maritime environment, as opposed to the more familiar panga, we also see the use of surfboards and jet skis. No matter what transnational criminal organizations choose to use, CBP remains vigilant in protecting our coastline," he said.
I’ve got to say the smugglers showed good sense in their choice of stealthy platforms. Photos courtesy of border enforcement appear to show West Marine branded Ocean Kayak Prowler 13s complete with flushmount rod holders. Seaworthy too, with a generous cargo capacity.
This custom camo job came from a can of black spray paint – it wasn’t made to last. Which begs the question – if the smugglers were savvy enough to select one of the finer all-around fishing kayaks, why didn’t they troll on the way? They might have hidden in plain sight, just four more of many, many Southern California kayak anglers.