With gas prices over $4 a gallon and Middle East tensions not soon to be abated and with the price of a barrel of oil skyrocketing, the smuggling of gas into the United States is taking on a new priority, law enforcement agents admitted on Thursday on the beach at Ocean Beach.
Twelve gas smugglers were taken into custody in Ocean Beach on Thursday morning at the foot of the OB Pier. Local Pat James caught some of the scene with these photos.
The smugglers had come ashore on a small boat, called a “panga” which had a number of plastic jugs of gas. It was first assumed that this was just an ordinary “illegal alien” bust, but when authorities discovered all the gas jugs, agents had to rewrite their reports.
At first, Border Patrol agents were notified, and upon their arrival they arrested two men smugglers, and later located 10 others hiding more jugs of gas among the rocks just south of the Pier. They were also taken into custody along with the gasoline. The 20-foot boat was confiscated and towed away.
It is believed that all those arrested came from oil-producing nations. The Department of the Interior and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission were notified of the attempts at bringing in illegal gasoline.
“It’s getting so expensive to drive these days,” noted one Border Patrol agent, who wished to be unnamed as he was not authorized to discuss the issue, “that smugglers risk their lives in bringing cheap gas ashore.”
“These panga boats are perfect,” another agent observed, “as local fishermen are bribed to land on our beaches with their hulls loaded with gas jugs. Bringing illegal gas to this country is highly profitable, and will doubtlessly continue as long as gas prices are so high.”
A businesswoman passing by on her way to open her Newport Avenue shop also offered this comment:
“The oil companies are reaping huge profits right now. Plus they got a $4 billion hand-out of taxpayer money with their annual subsidy.” She asked no one in particular: “Why are American taxpayers giving billions of dollars to the oil companies? Every year.”
As the agents and lifeguards were wrapping up, the plastic jugs of gas were set out on rocks next to the boardwalk south of the Pier. A crowd of curious bystanders and seagulls gathered near the jugs. A few individuals appeared to hold empty containers. Agents were visibly nervous at that point, so the jugs were moved into custody.
A number of TV vans showed up when they heard about the illegal gas smuggling.