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Boat Bust: Suspected Drug Smugglers Toss Packages In Ocean Near Newport Beach

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Photo by lowjumpingfrog via Flickr
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Three Mexican nationals suspected of drug smuggling were arrested aboard a boat off Newport Beach on Sunday after being spotted by lifeguards, according to authorities. The 25-foot panga, reported stolen in Mexico, was headed to Huntington State Park when it was seized by police, according to ABC Local.

Officials said the men shoved at least one package into the ocean before being confronted by sheriff's deputies. Deputies stopped the boat at gunpoint about a mile offshore from the Newport Beach Pier and took them into custody. "The three men noticed the lifeguard and police trucks on the beach, so they went back out to sea and began throwing things into the water," Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino said.

Coastal drug smuggling is "a growing problem" in Orange County, said investigators. Smugglers have reportedly been compensating with extra food, water and fuel to stay up to 50 miles offshore as not to be detected.