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Drug Smuggling Business Revealed in Affidavit

An affidavit spells out what went on before law enforcement interrupted a drug smuggling operation.

Law enforcement officers arrested seven men who waived their consular and Miranda rights and talked about the events that led to their capture.

Days before an open-bowed boat carrying bails of marijuana came ashore at Tajiguas Creek Beach, Alejandro Cortez-Garcia claims a man in Sinaloa, Mexico threatened his wife, mother and sister if he didn’t serve as the outboard motor mechanic on a smuggling boat.

Cortez-Garcia said he was paid 10,000 pesos, or about $800, in advance with the promise of more pesos upon his return.

But Homeland Security agent David Wales isn’t buying what he calls a duress defense.

He said they had no way to check the facts in Mexico.

Cortez-Garcia went on to say he was flown to Tijuana and ordered to stay inside an Ensenada hotel until someone came for him.

He said armed men introduced him to the boat’s captain and bought the captain a cell phone.

Then he said he went to Popotlan to load the boat with more than 3,000 pounds of pot.

They set off and traveled some 200 nautical miles to Santa Barbara, arriving in the early hours of Friday morning.

More than a dozen people were also hired to wait for them and unload the boat, but they are not all caught.

Five men from the Los Angeles area say they were also offered around $800 each to move some “stuff” in Santa Barbara.

Some of them rendezvoused at a fast-food restaurant and hotel south of the beach.

Little did they know the California National Guard spotted them with the help of night vision goggles.

Guard members contact the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s SWAT team.

Officers arrested several men hiding in bushes and others hiding along the railroad train tracks.

One of three cars sent to meet the smuggling boat took off.

Agents followed it all the way to the Camarillo outlets and made a traffic stop nearby, but the occupants jumped a fence and got away.

Inside the pickup, they found about 1,000 pounds of marijuana.

The drugs were taken to the regional Homeland Security Office, which happens to be in Camarillo.

Wales said the bust prevented huge sums of money from flowing back to cartels accused of killing thousands of people each year in Mexico.

Alejandro Cortez-Garcia, Carlos Cortez-De La Cruz, Manton Pine, Josh Jimenez, Juan Carlos Godinez, Jesus Lopez, and Rafael Garcia are all named in the affidavit. They will face trafficking, smuggling, fraud and immigration violation charges in federal court next month.

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