11/09/14 (written by cissel) — U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) announced that two people were arrested on the morning of November 5 after an ultra-light plane carrying 185 pounds of marijuana crossed from Mexico into southeastern Arizona. According to several media reports, CBP detected the plane by radar around 3:00am that morning, as it was flying between the cities of Agua Prieta, Sonora, and Douglas, Arizona, about 120 miles southeast of Tucson. Later, around 4:45am, CBP agents at Wilcox Station, about 100 miles north of Douglas, observed the aircraft drop two packages, which were attached to the bottom of the aircraft by a metal basket. When Border Patrol agents went to seize the dropped materials, they came upon two men also trying to retrieve the marijuana, which was valued at around $92,000, or $1.2 million pesos. The men initially fled the scene, but were eventually apprehended.
This incident exemplifies the implementation of new technologies on both sides of the border. According to the Associated Press, Border Patrol said “the use of the ultra-light craft shows criminal organizations’ use of alternative methods to smuggle cargo across the U.S.-Mexico border.” On the other hand, however, it is also indicative of the CBP’s simultaneous use of advanced technology installed along the border in recent years to detect the tiny plane on the radar, and therefore to prevent illicit activity, such as drug trafficking.