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Coast Guard detains three alleged drug smugglers after boat catches on sandbar off Malibu coast

Photo by Michael McCullough via Flickr Creative Commons

A sailing tip: Never go out on the water stoned, or you might run aground.

And never go out on the water carrying bags of smuggled marijuana in a panga boat, or you might run aground, then be arrested by the Department of Homeland Security.

That’s more or less what happened Tuesday night, Coast Guard officials say, after a small vessel was seen stuck on a sandbar off the coast of Latigo Beach in Malibu at about 10:30 p.m.

Although reports differ on some of the details, three men were definitely spotted -- indeed, they were filmed, as this NBC report shows -- throwing their cargo overboard before shoving off for deeper waters in an apparent effort to escape Coast Guard officials.

The men were intercepted about two miles offshore, according to KTLA, and arrested on suspicion of drug smuggling. Their jettisoned cargo is believed to be bales of marijuana, and officials said the three men and their panga were from Mexico.

Officials say Mexican smugglers -- carrying both drugs and people -- are taking boats like these farther north as they try to evade stepped-up patrols closer to the border. KTLA states that “A similar panga bust earlier this year netted 2,500 pounds of marijuana.”

The boat was towed to Marina Del Rey late Tuesday night. The men are being held by Homeland Security agents in San Clemente, according to Coast Guard officials.