Special training assisted Harbor Patrol deputies and lifeguards in seizure of almost 1,300 pounds of marijuana off San Clemente

SAN CLEMENTE  The arrest of two Mexican nationals after their boat was found with 1,278 pounds of marijuana off San Clemente State Beach on Sunday, Sept. 10 was a result of stepped-up training by deputies and lifeguards who monitor the Orange County coastline, officials said.

San Clemente city lifeguards saw the boat sitting 50 yards off Calafia Beach early Sunday and called San Clemente State Lifeguards, said Rich Haydon, superintendent of state parks.

“It just didn’t look right,” Haydon said. “You have a small craft, a little cabin cruiser that fits the profile of possible smugglers. It was anchored right off a beach that was secluded and close to the freeway. We called in Harbor Patrol.”

The smuggling incident was the second in a year and a half in San Clemente. In December 2016, a boat came ashore at San Clemente State Beach with more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana. The U.S. Border Patrol took the marijuana from the abandoned boat. No one was arrested in the incident.

In 2012, 8,000 pounds of marijuana bales were found in the water off Dana Point. In 2013, the U.S. Coast spotted a sailboat just off Balboa Island and found more than a ton of marijuana aboard.

Officials say increased training and vigilance by Harbor Patrol deputies, state and federal agencies has led to fewer contraband landing attempts off the Orange County coastline. The training, part of the Operation Stonegarden Program, educates law enforcement personnel in smuggling trends.

Most landings are now reported at secluded beaches north of Los Angeles, officials said.

On Sunday, two Harbor Patrol deputies arrived around 8:15 a.m. and went up alongside the…

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