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Nine arrested after drugs seized on South Coast
Authorities say they found more than 5,000 pounds of marijuana associated with a panga boat that turned up at Año Nuevo State Park on Friday. Photo courtesy U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Posted: Monday, August 4, 2014 12:40 pm | Updated: 12:06 pm, Tue Aug 5, 2014.
By Julia Reis [ email@example.com ] |7 comments
Nine suspects were arrested after a 40-foot vessel carrying 5,100 pounds of marijuana was intercepted by authorities in Pescadero late Friday night.
The panga, a lightweight boat commonly used by drug smugglers, was seized at Año Nuevo State Park around midnight on Friday and six men were initially arrested. Three additional suspects were taken into custody around 10 a.m. on Saturday, according to Virginia Kice, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security notified San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force agents that such a boat might be landing off the coast. The agents witnessed two large vans enter Año Nuevo State Beach around 10 p.m. Friday and meet a panga that landed there. Agents stopped the vans as they drove onto Highway 1.
The panga floated off after the marijuana had been loaded off the boat, but a local fisherman spotted it adrift. It was recovered by the U.S. Coast Guard, according to a release from the San Mateo County district attorney’s office.
The boat was piloted from Mexico, and four of the suspects are residents of Sinaloa, Mexico, authorities say. The other suspects are from San Diego and San Jose, Calif. The defendants are 20-year-old Luis Farid Gonzalez, 36-year-old Mario Gonzalez, 39-year-old Juan Hernandez, 50-year-old Juan Valdez Lopez, 28-year-old Luis Espinoza Mendoza, 39-year-old Estaban Flores Salazar, 19-year-old Joan Sicairos, 38-year-old Mark Richard Teixeira, and 33-year-old Phin Yo Vorn.
All of the defendants, with the exception of Mario Gonzalez, who was unavailable for court, pleaded not guilty on Monday. The preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 14. Bail for all the defendants has been set for $1 million, and all are currently being held at San Mateo County jail.
Kice said it’s possible that the defendants could still face federal prosecution, as well.
Agencies that assisted with this incident include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which is the lead investigative agency, the Border Enforcement Security Task Force, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Land Management.
This incident is the second of its kind in recent months. In May, a little more than 1,200 pounds of marijuana were seized from an abandoned panga that washed ashore at Pescadero State Beach.
From Oct. 1, 2013, through July 9, 2014, there were two drug smuggling vessels seized in San Mateo County along with 1,026 pounds of marijuana. No arrests were made in conjunction with these incidents. According to statistics provided by Kice, the majority of smuggling apprehensions during that time took place in open ocean waters, including those off Mexico.
Can simply being near the ocean wash away stress?
A new book sets out to answer some big questions about the brain and bodies of water. "Blue Mind" explores why so many of us are drawn to the ocean, and how this scientifically connects to our health and happiness, CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reports.
Most of us know that feeling of calm we get when we are on, in or just near the water.
"This is what you want if you're in the midst of a stressful week," said Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and conservationist who lives near the central coast of California. "You just want to hit that big blue reset button and get out here."
Nichols spent much of his professional life trying to protect endangered sea turtles. Now he's exploring the scientific reasons for why humans have such a deep connection with the deep blue.
"There are all these cognitive and emotional benefits that we derive every time we spend time by water, in water or under water," Nichols said.
The marine biologist dubbed it our "blue mind," the mildly meditative state our brains enter when exposed to water.
Initially, Nichols was apprehensive that people would dismiss him as a California beach-lover, but he attests that his thesis is scientifically backed.
"Once you get into it, you realize that it's chemistry, it's biology, it's physiology. It's deeply personal but it's also strong science," Nichols said.
The science is still evolving, but Nichol's work is getting plenty of attention. He began hosting "blue mind" seminars that are attracting neurologists and psychologists from around the world.
Brain imagining indicates that proximity to water floods the brain with feel-good hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol actually drop. Scientists have also discovered that the brain prefers the color blue above all others and water increases our ability to focus.
"Our response to water is deep," Nichols said. "It's human, it's about life and it's about survival."
In fact, our bodies consist of about 60 percent water and our brains, a whopping 75 percent.
"So when you see water, when you hear water, it triggers a response in your brain that you're in the right place," Nichols said.
From rafting to kayaking to surfing, water therapy is increasingly being used to treat a variety of ailments, including wounded veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress and depression.
"I think connecting public health to a healthy ocean is critical," Nichols said. "It helps you relax, just literally sucks the stress out of your body and out of your mind."
So the next time you gaze into that blue horizon, you'll know that feeling you get really is all in your head.
© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.July 22, 2014, 8:11 AM
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