Dec 3, 2012 7:28 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News
"He's the best shipmate I've ever known, he was a friend, he was a big brother to us all, and he's absolutely irreplaceable."
Holding back tears, Coast Guard shipmates of Terrell Horne talk about their fallen comrade.
The Coast Guard member was killed in waters off the South Coast Sunday after alleged drug smugglers crashed their panga boat into a Coast Guard apprehension vessel.
The Coast Guard says Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, 34, died from a traumatic head injury when he was struck in the head by the propeller of the panga boat.
It happened Sunday morning near the Channel Islands on the Ventura-Santa Barbara county line.
They say the smugglers intentionally ran their boat into a small Coast Guard boat, at high speed.
Two Coast Guard members, including Horne, were thrown into the water.
This is the first run-in with smugglers this year where a law enforcement member has been killed.
"They've shown a willingness to take aggressive action against law enforcement officers, if they're willing to do that, they're also willing to do that to any civilian who might come across their activities," says Commander Jim Taylor of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office.
With the Central Coast now becoming a key target for drug smugglers, local law enforcement and federal agencies are teaming up.
"They're going to find a way to try and come here, you can't just turn a blind eye to it and you can't allow it to happen," says Taylor.
Airplanes, choppers, boats and law enforcement on foot converge on the Central Coast drug war.
"Typically some of the things that the deputies would look for would be suspicious vehicle traffic, large vehicles, moving vans," says Taylor.
Smugglers are also known to use RVs like the one that was used as a getaway in a recent bust where more than four thousand pounds of dope was found.
The sheriff's office also says they are increasing patrolling along the Northern Coast, an area where four panga boats have been found this year already.
"We've also secured a second ICE agent who will begin working with the sheriff's office at our narcotics unit in January," says Taylor.
But will all this come with a hefty price tag for local tax payers?
According to the sheriff's office, no. Commander Taylor says they have secured a federal grant in October that will pay for the increased enforcement efforts.
"It's the additional resources that the county simply cannot afford by itself and to have the commitment from the federal government, and now I think an even more increased commitment because of the problem, it's reassuring to us that we can manage this problem effectively," says Taylor.
The sheriff's office says the federal grant was awarded in October and will provide $50,000 a year.
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