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Police nab Mexican drug boat north of LA, arrest 10

(Reuters) - Police seized a Mexican motorboat loaded with more than a ton of marijuana north of Los Angeles early on Wednesday and arrested 10 people, the latest in a growing number of seizures as smugglers seek to ferry drugs north to market by sea, authorities said.

U.S. Border Patrol agents found the 27-foot (8-metre) vessel packed with numerous bales of marijuana on the coast of Ventura County shortly before dawn, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said in a news release.

Authorities also seized two vehicles located in the landing area believed to be linked to the smuggling attempt.

Four of those detained arrived on board the boat and the other six arrested were found in the landing area, the agency said.

As security has tightened in recent years along the United States' porous border with Mexico, trafficking organizations have increasingly taken to smuggling drugs and illegal immigrants north to the United States by sea.

From January to October 2011, authorities recorded 26 maritime smuggling incidents in the greater Los Angeles area, including seven in Ventura County. Since then there have been 10 further cases, including two in Ventura County and one in Santa Barbara County.

In response to the growing number of incidents in the Los Angeles area, authorities have expanded the use of marine patrols, land-based surveillance and collaboration with the Mexican government.

The seizure on Wednesday followed a tip-off from the National Guard who spotted the vessel offshore.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor in Phoenix; Editing by Daniel Trotta)

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