San Diego, CA – Sea smuggling claimed the life of a United States Coast Guard. The boat crew was chasing another vessel suspected of trying to sneak drugs in the country when the tragic death occurred. The incident is the latest example of sea smugglers going father north to gain entry, according to the Associated Press.
Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne, 32, was killed after being struck in the head by the suspected drug smuggling boat on Sunday. The US Coast Guard boat was near the Channel Islands. The area is approximately 180 miles northwest of the Mexican border near Los Angeles. Officer Horne is the first law enforcement official to die on the ocean near California since the spike in the sea smuggling of drugs began in the area several years ago.
At least six suspected smugglers on boats allegedly attempting to bring drugs into the United States have been killed since 2010. The Coast Guard dispatched the Halibut, an 87-foot patrol cutter, from Marina del Rey after a plane spotted a panga vessel moving without lights near Santa Cruz island, according to the Pasadena Star News. The Coast Guard’s cutter also contained a 21-foot-long inflatable rigid-hull boat that is routinely used on missions that require enhanced agility and speed.
Once Chief Petty Officer Horne and his crew approached the suspected drug smugglers, the panga boat gunned its engine and knocked Brandon Langdon and Horne into the water. Langdon was treated for a knee injury; the two other crew members on board were not injured during the collision.
Admiral Robert J. Papp, Coast Guard Commandant, had this to say about the California sea smuggling death:
“Our fallen shipmate stood the watch on the front lines protecting our nation, and we are all indebted to him for his service and sacrifice.”
The Coast Guard sent crews by both air and seas to locate the speeding vessel. After nearly four hours, the suspected drug smugglers were captured 20 miles north of the Mexican border. Pepper spray was used to subdue two suspects on the panga boat.
Halibut Commanding Officer Lt. Stewart Sibert had this to say about Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne:
“He was my friend, he was my confidante. He was the glue that held my crew together. He gave me advice more times than I could count.”