Santa Barbara County has received a grant to combat the rise in both human and drug smuggling from Mexico into the United States. Many of the illegal operations have ended up in the local area.
The California Emergency Management Agency has given the Sheriff’s Department $50,000 to pay for overtime and investigation costs linked to illegal smuggling cases.
The current program is called Operation Stonegarden.
In the last two years, several fishing boats from Mexico have been spotted on Santa Barbara and Ventura County beaches. Some were empty but there was evidence of human or drug smuggling at the site.
Some suspects have been arrested near the boats, but most have escaped, in some cases leaving bales of pot behind.