Authorities seize 80 bales of marijuana from sailboat in Newport Beach

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Authorities seized 80 bales of marijuana from a sailboat in Newport Beach in the early morning hours Monday.

That's roughly enough to fill the back end of a pickup truck, said Adam Eggers, a spokesperson for the U.S. Coast Guard.

Smugglers have been known to use panga boats to sneak drugs and other contraband across the border in recent years. As authorities here have learned to be on the lookout for such boats, the smugglers have adjusted their tactics, moving their product to recreational vessels such as sailboats before coming to shore, Eggers said.

In this case, a Coast Guard crew on routine patrol decided to board the sailboat as it was entering Newport Harbor at about 1 a.m. By law, the Coast Guard may board any American vessel in U.S. waters for any reason and at any time, according to Eggers.

When the crew approached, the pilot of the sailboat reportedly veered away and ran aground on the beach. Two people jumped and ran away, according to an official Coast Guard statement.

When crewmembers inspected the boat, they found 80 or 90 bales of marijuana.

The Los Angeles Border Enforcement Security Taskforce, or LA BEST, confiscated the marijuana along with the vessel. An investigation is under way.

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