El Centro BP: Drug Smugglers Fly Ultra Light Planes over Border

El Centro BP: Drug Smugglers Fly Ultra Light Planes over Border

Posted:
courtesy: radiopatrulla.com, Drug smugglers use ultralight aircraft as a new tool to smuggle drugs across the border. courtesy: radiopatrulla.com, Drug smugglers use ultralight aircraft as a new tool to smuggle drugs across the border.

El Centro, CA-Drug smugglers taking to the skies to ferry drugs across the border.

They're using ultralight aircrafts as the new tool to smuggle drugs and U.S. Border Patrol officials said the number of encounters are increasing.

U.S. Border Patrol officials from the El Centro sector said it's a sign that drug smugglers are becoming desperate since the border is becoming more secure.

Hang gliders which are usually used for recreational purposes are now being modified to carry drug loads.

Drug smugglers have dug tunnels, sailed boats, built ramps over the border fence and even tried to hide drugs inside of bricks to try and succeed in their smuggling runs.

But now, ultralight aircraft seem to be the new trend among Mexican organized crime groups, now that man power, technology and security has been stepped up along the Southwest border.

"These criminal organizations have become a little bit more desperate and they find dangerous means of transporting their narcotics thru the border via these ultra light aircraft," Victor Lara, Border Patrol spokes for the El Centro sector said.

Lara said they had 118 incursions during the 2009 fiscal year.

The number of incursions doubled last year and they had more than 70 encounters in the first four months of this year.

Lara said the modified hang gliders can zip across the border within minutes.

So now agents have to turn off their engines and roll down their windows.

"They're detected by means of hearing them because they fly at low levels," Lara said. "So the only way of detecting these guys is by hearing these guys at night."

Ultralights make a sound a little louder than a lawnmower.

He said these light-weight planes have a single engine and carry one or two people.

Lara said smugglers won't carry drug loads by the ton as they once did. Ultralight carry only a few pounds at a time.

"It doesn't take a lot of skill to fly these so that's why they pose a major threat to everybody," Lara said.

He said agents can't shoot down the ultralights because it would place the public at risk and they could also crash into power lines.

Agents can only follow the planes to their destination.

They also tip off the Mexican authorities in case they fly back across the southern border.

U.S. Border Patrol officials ask that if you happen to see anything suspicious flying in the air across the border to please contact them at 1-866-AIRBUST.

  • Email Alert Sign Up

    Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.

    * denotes required fields


    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.

KSWT-TV Affiliates

Go to KSWT-TV's Facebook page
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Yuma Shooting Victim Identified; Vigil Held

    Yuma Shooting Victim Identified; Vigil Held

    YUMA - Friends and family gathered outside Jimmie Dee's bar Sunday night to say goodbye to Frank Salazar, Jr. Yuma police are confirming the identification of the 28-year-old shooting victim, who diedMore >>
    YUMA - Friends and family gathered outside Jimmie Dee's bar Sunday night to say goodbye to Frank Salazar, Jr. Yuma police are confirming the identification of the 28-year-old shooting victim, who died outside the local bar early Friday morning.More >>
  • Coming soon...Wal-Mart

    Coming soon...Wal-Mart

    On Wednesday the Yuma City Council voted to change the zoning designation on the proposed land acquired by Wal-Mart. The property located near the intersection of Avenue B and 8th Street was the home of a mobile home park as zones for residential use; the new designation changes that to mixed which will allow the new store to move in to the property. The new store will be the fifth Wal-Mart for Yuma County.More >>
    On Wednesday the Yuma City Council voted to change the zoning designation on the proposed land acquired by Wal-Mart. The property located near the intersection of Avenue B and 8th Street was the home of a mobile home park as zones for residential use; the new designation changes that to mixed which will allow the new store to move in to the property. The new store will be the fifth Wal-Mart for Yuma County.More >>
  • Out with the old...

    Out with the old...

    It has been a staple in the Yuma community since the early 70's and the place to meet for the young and old alike. The Southgate Mall now sits on broken asphalt and bares the scares of more than 40 years; decades being passed from owner to owner and now it's set to be torn down to make way for a new more improved shopping center. Today the building has been stripped from within to make way for demolition equipment to tear down the center portion of the mall. Stores like Sear, Burlington and t...More >>
    It has been a staple in the Yuma community since the early 70's and the place to meet for the young and old alike. The Southgate Mall now sits on broken asphalt and bares the scares of more than 40 years; decades being passed from owner to owner and now it's set to be torn down to make way for a new more improved shopping center. Today the building has been stripped from within to make way for demolition equipment to tear down the center portion of the mall. Stores like Sear, Burlington and t...More >>
  • California firm issues nationwide fruit recall

    California firm issues nationwide fruit recall

    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.More >>
    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.More >>
  • Woman arrested to allegedly smuggling drugs into Calipatria State Prison

    Woman arrested to allegedly smuggling drugs into Calipatria State Prison

    CALIPATRIA, CA - A woman visiting an inmate at a local prison winds up behind bars herself for trying to smuggle in drugs. Calipatria State Prison officials say 25-year-old Veronica Delgado was visitingMore >>
    CALIPATRIA, CA - A woman visiting an inmate at a local prison winds up behind bars herself for trying to smuggle in drugs. Calipatria State Prison officials say 25-year-old Veronica Delgado was visiting an inmate in facility C yesterday, when an officer noticed something in her mouth. More >>
  • National

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Web Producer: Lucy Valencia, Assignment Desk Editor WASHINGTON (AP) -- Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits willMore >>
    Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits will be delayed if congressional Republicans fail to increase the government's borrowing authority in a looming showdown over the nation's debt and spending.More >>
  • Officials: Rebar spikes placed on forest roads

    Officials: Rebar spikes placed on forest roads

    Officials say someone is placing sharpened rebar spikes around Forest Service roads in Arizona.More >>
    Officials say someone is placing sharpened rebar spikes around Forest Service roads in Arizona.More >>
  • Website ranks Yuma # 1 for worst place in the U.S. for singles

    Website ranks Yuma # 1 for worst place in the U.S. for singles

    Yuma, AZ - People having trouble finding a date or significant other could blame the local economy according to one website. More >>