By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
Just after 1 a.m. on June 3, a nondescript, single-mast sailboat cruised into Newport Harbor. It's unclear what about the vessel seemed suspicious—or for how long the U.S. Coast Guard had been tracking it. But, for whatever reason, crew from a 45-foot response boat attempted to board the craft. Instead, the sailboat's pilot quickly steered to the right, running aground on the beach. While Coast Guard agents docked their boat, two men jumped from the sailboat to the sand and ran away.
Inside the abandoned ship, agents found what authorities say were between 80 and 90 bales of marijuana. Investigators with the multi-agency Los Angeles Border Enforcement Security Taskforce (LA BEST) are working the case, hoping to learn the identities of the smugglers. But given the size of the haul (which has not yet been quantified by authorities), the location of the sailboat's rendezvous with the Coast Guard (a few hours' sailing distance from Mexico) and the name of the task force, it's safe to assume the yacht wasn't coming from Eureka.
In the past several weeks, federal and local authorities have shut down dozens of medical-marijuana dispensaries (first in Anaheim, then in Santa Ana and Garden Grove) in the wake of a May 6 ruling by the California Supreme Court that held that cities have the right to ban such clubs. Which is another way of saying that pot has become a lot harder to come by, at least for those who prefer to do so legally under state law.
While the DEA and local law enforcement waste resources fighting pot dispensaries operating in the open because they think they are protected by state law, the cartels and their ilk continue to profit. Earlier this month, federal prosecutors charged a New York man, Allesandro Taloni, with helping Canadian and East Coast mob families smuggle Canuck weed into the U.S., where it was sold on the black market to raise cash for purchasing cocaine from the Sinaloa cartel.
As this week's epic pot bust in Newport reveals, OC's ongoing potpocalypse is really just a sideshow, and the cartels are laughing all the way to the bank.