Gasoline Smugglers Caught in Ocean Beach as America’s “Gas War” Rages

by on February 24, 2012 · 31 comments

in Economy, Energy, Ocean Beach, Popular, San Diego, Satire

Panga discovered with the illegal gas just south of the OB Pier. All photos by Pat James.

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.

The smuggled gas in plastic jugs.

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.”

Local surfer Rob Roy was a witness to the landing and the arrests.  “I don’t blame these guys for bringing this cheap gas here. I’d do it too if I had a boat,” he admitted.

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.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Bud Pillsbury February 24, 2012 at 11:11 am

I blame Bush.


Andy Cohen February 25, 2012 at 10:44 am

Me too.


D February 25, 2012 at 11:22 am

You can blame whoever you want but gas prices are high because the dollar is low, iran, our denial of pipelines from canada, and lack of oil sands exploration.


Gristmiller February 25, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Gas price goes up before elections—particularly when the GOP is in trouble.


Goatskull February 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I wonder of human fart gas can be liquified and put into a fuel form.


unWASHEdwalmaRtthONG February 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Methane. The RNC & DNC have a surplus of this gas, & haven’t been willing to put it on the market to date.


Lois February 24, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Oh,This is too funny! I kept wondering where the closest foreign country was besides Mexico to be carrying a few jugs when they landed with the seagulls standing guard.

“A crowd of curious bystanders and seagulls gathered near the jugs.” Great journaling.


Lois February 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Above reply directed to Gilligan.


Chris Dotson February 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm

The last time gas got so expensive, both of my cars were siphoned during the same week. When I bought locking caps, the cashier remarked, “we’ve been selling out of these”. Hmmmmmmmm? Another conspiracy!


Giligan February 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Holy crap! This is too funny. I do not know how else to say this…They were not smuggling gas! They were smuggling migrants, who became illegal aliens the moment the landed on the beach. 14 of them to be exact. The fuel is for the long journey.

You can still blame Bush though; his doubling in size of the Border Patrol lead to smuggling organizations shifting their tactics and taking to the seas.


Marcus February 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm

I am glad someone figured that out besides me. I calculated there was perhaps 30-40 gallons capacity in those containers and that would be what, a whopping $125-170 or so GROSS. Unless the gas was stolen you must deduct their cost for the gas and the net is dinner for two without drinks or wine. Who would smuggle anything for that small change?


Frank Gormlie February 25, 2012 at 10:15 am

Marcus – depends doesn’t it on where you wine and dine? And besides that, gas prices are rising quicker than you can punch in 9-1-1 to report the next gas smugglers.


D February 25, 2012 at 11:26 am

You can blame bush, but Obama deports like its going out of style…


Marilyn Steber February 25, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Or maybe they were smuggling the pangas. Anybody remember the wheelbarrow smuggler?


Mary Paulet February 25, 2012 at 2:00 am

This is why we need a democratic party that pushes alternative energy sources such as fuel cells,as an alternative to the Republican party of No!


JMW February 25, 2012 at 6:41 am

“It is believed that all those arrested came from oil-producing nations.” Wow, really? Which one? Russia? Iran? Venezuela? Who else? Hmm. Came in a panga? Wow. Didn’t come very far. Canada? Mexico? Hmm.


Frank Gormlie February 25, 2012 at 11:10 am

JMW – So great to hear from you! Got sand in yur ear? Can’t wait to capture all the money you’ve made at our first poker game upon your return.


JMW February 26, 2012 at 6:41 am

I’ll see you there, buster, and be happier to lose than you to win.


Marilyn Steber February 25, 2012 at 10:15 am

If the pipeline to Texas is approved, you can bet the price of oil will go down for a while. Call me a conspiracy nut, but it is no coincidence the price of gas may go up to Europe-like prices.
A friend took me for a ride in an all electric car this week. Fancier than a golf cart, comfy, and perfect for an old lady like me who puts the dog in the car and drives to Appletree a coupla times a week.


Andy Cohen February 25, 2012 at 10:49 am

The Trans-Canada pipeline will have almost zero effect. It won’t even come online for several years–probably close to 10. The United States is already pumping oil at record levels–well above Bush era amounts–and we’re still seeing prices shoot up. The fact is that no matter how much the U.S. produces, it won’t bring prices down. It’s all up to the speculators to deliberately manipulate the price of a barrel of oil which in the end hits us all…….all in the name of padding commodities traders’ pockets.


Marilyn Steber February 25, 2012 at 11:08 am

Thanks for clarifying what I failed to. Politicians will use it in their speeches for jobs, jobs, jobs. They already use the price of gas as a talking point against Obama.
May I recommend two books? Greg Palast’s Vulture Capitalism explains the Pig do-dad that is supposed to detect leaks in the pipe. More costly to run it through the pipe than to pay the fine for a leak. Also, Hoodwinked by John Perkins, a great sequel to Disaster Capitalism by Klein.


dave rice February 26, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Quick clarification – Palast’s book is Vulture’s Picnic, and it’s a great read for sure. Better yet, we’ve got one of these pipelines that’s past its use-by date running through Pt. Loma from the bay to Miramar…don’t worry, the Navy ‘pigs’ it every three years or so.

I’m in the middle of an older Palast book, Armed Madhouse – lots of good info on how oil prices work there, probably even more valuable in that regard than Vulture’s Picnic.


Marilyn Steber February 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Dave: you are right about the title of Palast’s newer book. I must’ve been high when I wrote that! (Giggle) I’ve got Armed Madhouse somewhere around here and it is autographed by Palast’s mother. He was late getting to the signing!


Judy Swink February 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm

It’s even worse than that. Having read somewhere that the crude oil sent to Gulf Coast refineries would be exported once refined into fuel (gasoline, diesel, etc), I decided to do a bit of research to see if I can verify that statement. Imagine my surprise when I found several reliable sources confirmed that, in 2011, the United States was a net exporter of refined fuels. Do a Google search on “U.S. gasoline exports” – you’ll be amazed.


RB February 27, 2012 at 9:43 am

You should not be surprised we are exporting refined product. We are in the third year of a poor U.S. economy as measured by GDP, the housing data and the unemployment rate. People who don’t have jobs, drive less. Gasoline exports will stop as soon as the economy improves.


RB February 27, 2012 at 9:55 am

“The fact is that no matter how much the U.S. produces, it won’t bring prices down. ” Voodoo Economics

The link between supply, and demand, and price is basic economic theory.

“The Trans-Canada pipeline will have almost zero effect.”

Energy resources from Canada have much less political and delivery risk than oil from Iran. Also, please look at the twenty years of relatively stable price after the Alaskan Pipeline.


RB February 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Why are people surprised energy prices are going up?
The plan is for energy prices to increase dramatically, reduce demand and save the planet.


mr fresh February 26, 2012 at 9:12 am

What do the following links have in common? They are all mainstream media news stories about the role speculation plays in driving up oil prices. Of course there are articles out there on the interwebs that claim otherwise, but if you trace the sources back on those stories you’ll find two kinds of “experts” providing the data–CATO institute types that believe that we’re living in a “free market economy” and PR hacks for oil companies laying the groundwork to suppress consumer anger when yet another round of record profits for Mobil/Exxon and their ilk are announced in a few months. (Seattle Times), (UPI), (CNBC), (CNN), (CBS)


Brent February 27, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Ha Ha GAS SMUGGLING ???? REALLY ???? 12 people arrive with what looks like a total of six, 5 gallon gas jugs…. and they are smuggling GAS ???? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha
Let’s see how the math works out on this…. gas in Tijuana: $2.80 a gal. x 30 gallons= $84… gas in O.B. today: $ 4.30 a gal x 30 gallons= $129… $129-$84= $45 PROFIT !!!! then $45 profit divided by 12 smugglers…. a WHOPPING $3.75 each !!!!
PRICELESS detective work on the part of law enforcement. Keep up the good work boyz… I can now sleep the sleep of Angels knowing the perimeter is manned


Patty Jones February 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Jeez people… it’s satire, a joke…


Frank Gormlie February 28, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I resemble that remark.


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