An Arizona man and three men from Los Angeles were arrested Saturday after a lifeguard spotted them on the coast north of Santa Cruz near a beached boat that authorities say was used to smuggle $2.1 million worth of marijuana. A California State Parks lifeguard was traveling along the coastline in a patrol boat at about 9:40 a.m. when he saw several men acting suspiciously near a 35-foot motorboat at Shark’s Tooth Beach, north of Bonny Doon Beach, according to Cmdr. Mario Sulay of the Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Team.
The lifeguard recognized the Panga-type watercraft as the kind of boat sometimes used by drug smugglers, and called for assistance from other law enforcement agencies as the men fled, Sulay said. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office responded, along with Cal Fire Law Enforcement, University of California at Santa Cruz police, the California Highway Patrol, and a Capitola police K-9 unit.
Authorities combed the area for the suspects and found the four men, and seized several dozen tightly wrapped bales of marijuana from the beach, Sulay said. The marijuana weighed about 1,200 pounds and had an estimated value of $2.1 million, Sulay said. Patrol boats from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Santa Cruz Harbor Patrol responded and seized the vessel, Sulay said. The Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Team’s narcotic and gang task forces, along with special agents from U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, arrived and assumed control of the investigation, Sulay said.
The task force officers arrested the four suspects — identified as Silviano Davalos Jr., 30, of San Luis, Ariz., and Los Angeles residents Jose Luis Martinez-Ruiz, 34, Alex Cerna, 24, Jose Martin Garcia, 30 — on suspicion of transportation of marijuana, Sulay said.
Their boat had a large-capacity fuel tank, and Sulay said such vessels are commonly used by traffickers to smuggle drugs from Mexico up the coast of California and unload the drugs on secluded beaches.
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