U.S. Homeland Security special agents apprehended nine men suspected of attempting to smuggle illicit drugs at Crystal Cove State Park early Monday morning.
Border Patrol agents recovered 26 bundles of marijuana with an estimated street value of $1.79 million, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection release. The bundles weighed 1,197 pounds.
Agents were patrolling the coastline around midnight Monday. They observed a panga-style fishing boat off El Moro Bay in Laguna Beach. The boat came ashore at Crystal Cove, and agents watched seven men exit the boat and unload two bundles onto the beach, according to the release.
Two additional men exited a nearby GMC Yukon and helped unload bundles from the boat. Agents then apprehended the seven men from the boat and two men from the Yukon, officials said. Homeland Security special agents took the nine suspects in for further investigation.
Six of the suspects are from the U.S. and range in age from 22 to 45; two suspects are from Mexico, ages 23 and 40; and one is from Guatemala, age 24. Customs and Border Protection did not provide names of the suspects.
All nine men are charged with penalty for possession of illicit drugs. The two suspects from Mexico and one from Guatemala are also charged with illegal entry into the U.S., Customs and Border Protection spokesman Ralph DeSio wrote in an email.
Authorities seized both the boat and Yukon. The boat will be stored and saved as evidence for any court proceedings and then be destroyed, DeSio said.