Drug smugglers nabbed at La Jolla’s WindanSea Beach


Drug smugglers were caught red-handed early Monday, unloading about 2 tons of marijuana from a boat at WindanSea Beach before scurrying off into the neighborhood where seven were later arrested.

Nearby, at Dog Beach in Ocean Beach, 13 illegal immigrants were arrested about an hour later as a crowd scattered from another boat that came ashore there, police said.

The drug-smuggling boat at WindandSea, near Neptune Place and Palomar Avenue, was reported at 1:23 a.m., San Diego police Sgt. David Jennings said.

Police said Border Patrol agents were watching the boat and saw the smugglers unload it, then run off into a residential neighborhood. Border Patrol agents, along with SDPD officers, rounded up seven people, according to police.

Mark Endicott of the Border Patrol said 40 large bales of marijuana were confiscated in the early-morning police raid at WindanSea Beach.

Tony Olson, a captain with Vessel Assist of San Diego, said his company was contacted at 2:20 a.m. Tuesday to come out and tow the 33-foot red Mexcian panga boat that was used to smuggle marijuana and the passengers. Olson said the smuggling vessel was taken to the boat yard in San Diego that handles impounded vessels.

Lynn Laumann, a WindanSea resident who lives at the corner of Palomar Avenue and Vista Del Mar, said he was awakened by police helicopters overhead with spotlights about 1:45 a.m. Tuesday morning, and witnessed the incident transpiring through his binoculars.

“There was quite a bit of commotion right down here at the corner and the boat was on the beach at that time,” he said. “I saw them apprehend the suspects and put them in a white van. There’s a walkway (down Vista Del Mar) that goes down to the beach and apparently they used that to transport the drugs from the beach to the street without being seen.”

Laumann said this wasn’t the first such smuggling incident in the area.

“This is the third boat in the last three or four weeks that’s landed at this spot,” he said. “It’s always in the middle of the night when police are busy. My take on it was the Border Patrol probably was watching them (smugglers) with radar or some other way, and caught them before they were able to unload.”

At Dog Beach, as many as 40 people were reported running away from a boat near the 2200 block of Abbott Street at 2:37 a.m., Jennings said.

According to Border Patrol Agent Jose Morales, 13 people were arrested and it was unclear how many got away. There were no drugs found aboard that vessel, he said.

Jennings said the initial report of 40 people appeared to be on the high side.

— City News Service contributed to this report.