Panga-style boats have become the preferred vessel of drug smuggles off the California coast. Photo: Wikimedia.

Panga-style boats have become the preferred vessel of drug smuggles off the California coast. Photo: Wikimedia.

A veteran U.S. Coast Guard chief petty officer suffered fatal head trauma Sunday after drug smugglers in a panga rammed his vessel off the Ventura County coastline.

Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, 34, of Redondo Beach, Calif., was second in command of the Halibut, an 87-foot patrol cutter based in Marina del Rey, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Horne and his team approached the vessel in a smaller inflatable boat, when the panga headed toward the Coast Guard boat and rammed it, knocking Horne and another officer into the water. Horne succumbed to head injuries at 2:21 a.m.

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