U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III was killed Sunday morning in California while attempting to investigate a suspicious Mexican panga style boat later discovered to have a load of marijuana onboard.
ABC News reported that as the Coast Guard Cutter Halibut approached the suspected drug-smuggling panga vessel, the “driver of the panga rammed it and actually drove over the top of the boat, striking two agents and killing one of them.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, both agents fell into the water, but Horne had sustained a head injury and was pronounced dead by paramedics when the cutter returned to the pier.
The Coast Guard has four men in custody and is searching for another two they believe were involved in the smuggling activities. Both men on the panga were Mexican nationals said the ABC News article.
The Times article added the following information on the crisis on the California coastline:
In the last five years, as U.S. authorities have become increasingly successful at blocking traditional land routes, smugglers have taken increasingly to the sea — ferrying both drugs and immigrants. Authorities believe a smuggling vessel is launched toward California every three days; the number of immigrants and smugglers arrested at sea or along the coast more than doubled to 867 in 2010 from the previous year.
Border Patrol agents have been diverted from land to sea, and an agency supervisor recently called the ocean ‘the front line.’
The eruption in sea-based smuggling has created the same cat-and-mouse game in the ocean that has long existed along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is yet another murder of a federal law enforcement agent fighting the ongoing war on our border against Mexican drug cartels. When will the U.S. recognize that this truly is a war being waged against us and send help to our agents who put their lives on the line every single day facing criminals who have no respect for human life? May you rest in peace, Chief Petty Officer Horne.