Rep. Carbajal Secures $110 Million in DHS Funding Authorization to Combat Panga Smuggling
Washington, DC – Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) announced today that his request to fully fund the Operation Stonegarden program was included in the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Bill. $110 million in funding, from FY 2018-2022, will help to offset the costs incurred by Central Coast law enforcement as they combat panga smuggling off our coastline.
In a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcomittee on Homeland Security, Carbajal requested $55 million in funding for the program, writing that Operation Stonegarden funding is, “particularly important in my district along the Central Coast of California where we have seen an increase in small-craft smuggling of narcotics and, in some cases human, using traditional Mexican fishing boats called ‘pangas.’”
“I am very appreciative of Congressman Carbajal’s efforts in fighting to keep funding for the Federal Homeland Security Program,” said San Luis Obispo County Sherriff, Ian Parkinson. “This program helps provide funding to support local law enforcement in protecting our boarders and keeping our community safe. The funding was in jeopardy of being cut and it took his effort and support to keep it in the Federal budget.”
“It is critical that our coast is secure from drug and human trafficking and I'm pleased to see federal resources provided for this effort in Santa Barbara County," said Santa Barbara County Sheriff, Bill Brown. "This funding will help local law enforcement strengthen and build upon our efforts to counter this threat and keep our communities safe.”
Operation Stongarden is one of three programs in the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Grant Program designed to increase coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, increase preparedness at the local level, and help offset the costs incurred by local law enforcement as they conduct homeland and border security related operations. For example, Operation Stonegarden reimburses local law enforcement for vehicle maintenance and overtime costs incurred as they work on panga smuggling investigations.
Full text of the letter is included below:
Dear Chairman Carter and Ranking Member Roybal-Allard,
I am writing to express strong support for Operation Stonegarden, currently funded under the State Homeland Security Grant Program. Specifically, I request a dedicated appropriation to this program of at least $55 million to help our local law enforcement protect our borders.
Operation Stonegarden funds are critical to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies as they partner with federal officials to jointly secure U.S. borders and territories, including efforts to combat drug smuggling, human trafficking, and other border concerns. This funding enhance theses entities’ capabilities by providing support for additional law enforcement personnel, overtime pay, and travel and lodging for deployment of state and local personnel to further increase our presence along the borders.
This is particularly important in my district along the Central Coast of California where we have seen an increase in small-craft smuggling of narcotics and, in some cases human, using traditional Mexican fishing boats called “pangas.” Local law enforcement officials estimate that each boat carries at least 1 ton of illegal drugs, usually marijuana although methamphetamine smuggling has also been reported. In addition, undocumented immigrants have been smuggled on these boats and could be victims of human trafficking.
Thank you for all you do to protect the citizens of the United States. I stand ready to work with you to ensure that we are doing all we can to keep our citizens and our coastline safe. Operation Stonegarden funds are a critical to provide efficient border security and encourage cooperation between federal, state, and local law enforcement. Your strong support of this program will strengthen these links and help secure our borders.
Member of Congress