Coast Guardsman Killed: Terrell Horne III Murdered By Suspected Marijuana Smugglers

By Amir Khan on December 3, 2012 2:50 PM EST

Marijuana
The distinctive five-leaf structure of a marijuana plant is seen as it grows in a medical marijuana center in Denver (Photo: Reuters)

A Coast Guardsman killed in California on Sunday was murdered by suspected marijuana smugglers, according to the Los Angeles Times. Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III was the coast guardsman killed, and died when the smugglers rammed their boat into his, inflicting a fatal head wound and causing him to fall into open water.

The coast guardsman killed was dispatched to investigate a suspicious boat near Santa Cruz Island. The coast guardsman killed was sent to investigate because the boat was operating without any lights on and was a "panga" style boat, "the choice of smugglers operating off the coast of California," according to Coast Guard spokesman Adam Eggers.

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When the coast guardsman killed approached the boat in his small "cutter," a rigid-hulled inflatable boat used for quick maneuvering, the suspicious boat turned its engine on, rammed the cutter, and killed the coast guardsman.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our shipmate," Adm. Robert J. Papp, a Coast Guard commandant, said, according to Fox News. "Our fallen shipmate stood the watch on the front lines protecting our nation, and we are all indebted to him for his service and sacrifice."

A second coast guardsman was knocked into the water as well, but only suffered minor injuries.

The Coast Guard used a helicopter to find the panga boat and arrested the two men who allegedly killed the coast guardsmen.

We are actively working to ensure that all of the individuals involved in this illegal activity are brought to justice," Coast Guard Capt. James Jenkins told the LA Times.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the coast guardsman killed was "engaged in an at-sea interdiction when they came under threat by a small vessel that rammed their small boat,'' according to the Associated Press.

She also said that the coast guardsman killed was a reminder of the dangers the men and women in the Coast Guard faced. She said the coast guardsman killed is in her thoughts and prayers.

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