Seafaring drug smugglers challenging Coast Guard

By

SAN DIEGO (AP) — While security has been tightened along the U.S.-Mexico border, smugglers are increasingly turning to the high seas.

U.S. authorities say the area where boats were seized off the Pacific coasts of Mexico's Baja California and California tripled to a size comparable to the state of Montana in square miles in the 2013 fiscal year, which ended in September.

While off South America, traffickers over the years have been traversing territory so big the continental United States could be dropped inside of it.

The Coast Guard's Adm. Robert Papp says budget cuts prompted his service to reduce its operating costs by 25 percent in 2013.

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.