Two Chinese men, along with a Mexican man, are in custody after Border Patrol agents tracked an ultralight aircraft as it made its way over the U.S.-Mexico border in the early morning hours on Tuesday.
According to a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agents were informed by CBP of the aircraft shortly before 2 a.m. as it made its way into U.S. airspace.
The aircraft was flying without any lights.
Agents were able to track the aircraft to its landing site, but the aircraft had already taken flight by the time they got there.
However, when they arrived, the agents encountered two Chinese nationals.
The CBP reported that the agents believed that these two individuals were dropped off by the aircraft and were in the country illegally.
Additionally, agents apprehended a Mexican man in a vehicle who is believed to have been waiting nearby to take the two illegals to their destination.
The three of them were all then taken to the Border Patrol’s Calexico Station for further questioning.
The incident isn’t the first time this week that border patrol agents have encountered an ultralight aircraft.
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In the same statement, the CBP reported that on Sunday, “Border Patrol agents tracked an ultralight aircraft that resulted in the arrest of two and the seizure of more than 125 pounds of methamphetamine.”
It’s unclear whether the same aircraft was used for both incidents.
The Washington Times reported that when agents arrived at the scene on Sunday, they found the drugs in 60 bundles bound together with duct tape. The total value of drugs seized is estimated to be around $1.4 million.
At a time when the issue of illegal immigration is commanding national headlines, the aircraft angle adds a new twist to an already contentious story.
Former Border Patrol agent Chris Harris told The Washington Times that using ultralight aircraft to not only send drugs but now people over the border is an extremely dangerous way of smuggling people to the United States.
“It’s disturbing,” he said. “If you want to get some operatives in this country very quickly, that’s a way.”
Chief patrol agent in the El Centro sector of the Border Patrol, Gloria Chavez, echoed Harris’ sentiments telling the newspaper that the ultralight vehicles are a “national security” threat.
“These aircraft are able to carry small payloads of dangerous cargo or dangerous people,” she said.
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