Capps praises Coast Guard officer who died in anti-drug operation

Central Coast Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, Monday praised the Coast Guardsman who lost his life in a collision with a panga boat in the Channel Islands, and reiterated her call that law enforcement at all levels work to coordinate the fight against the smuggling craft.

Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III died when smugglers rammed his vessel near Santa Cruz Island.

The collision threw Horne into the sea with a fatal head wound.

Horne was second in command of the patrol cutter Halibut.

“My heart goes out to the family of Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, who was killed in the line of duty, working to protect and defend our country,” Capps wrote in a news release.

“We are forever grateful for his service and the service of the thousands of Coast Guardsmen who patrol our coastlines day in and day out,” she said.

In July, Capps hosted a meeting between federal and local law enforcement to discuss increased panga smuggling and how to coordinate enforcement efforts.

On Monday, she reiterated those concerns, again emphasizing “the importance of better coordinating enforcement efforts between federal, state and local law enforcement, and ensuring that we are dedicating adequate resources to combating panga smuggling.”

She called the effort “especially important, as these incidents continue to occur further and further north on the Central Coast.”

Capps said she will “continue to press the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, the Coast Guard, and the Cal Emergency Management Agency to work to better combat panga smuggling and protect our men and women in uniform.”

In recent years, as authorities have cracked down on illegal drug shipments by land, smugglers have taken increasingly to the sea, often using panga boats. Several have put ashore near Ragged Point, north of Cambria.