SAN DIEGO (AP) — While security has tightened at the U.S. border, drug smugglers are increasingly turning to the high seas.
The area where boats were seized off California and the northwest coast of Mexico tripled to a size comparable to the state of Montana during the 2013 fiscal year, which ended in September. Off South America, traffickers over the years have been traversing territory so big the continental United States could be dropped inside of it.
Mexico's Sinaloa cartel has been loading marijuana bales onto 50-foot vessels as far south as the Mexican port of Mazatlan — where its leader, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, was captured early Saturday — and running them up the Pacific coast to the U.S., deep into California. It's unclear if Guzman's arrest will hinder the maritime runs.