Ultralight Plane Drops Meth in California

By Kelly Burch 12/20/18

Officials say the meth that was dropped by the ultralight plane was worth more than $1.4 million.

an ultralight plane was used to traffic meth into California

On Sunday, an ultralight plane slipped through the airspace between the US and Mexico with no lights on, dropping 60 bundles of methamphetamine and a get-away bike for the person who would pick up the drugs, into a farm field in Calexico, California, a town just over the border. 

Despite the fact that the plane had no lights, border agents responded to where it was believed to have flown and found bundles full of a white powder that later tested positive for meth, according to The Desert Sun. Agents arrested two people in the area who they suspect were there to pick up the drugs from the plane. 

Although the Calexico area is better known for drug tunnels that funnel narcotics into the US, Gloria Chavez, chief patrol agent in the area, said that planes also pose a risk when they are used by drug smugglers. 

“Ultralight aircraft not only pose a threat to legitimate air traffic in the vicinity, but also to national security," she said. "These aircraft are able to carry small payloads of dangerous cargo or dangerous people.”

While 60 packages might have been a relatively small amount for drug smugglers, officials say the drugs dropped on Sunday are worth more than $1.4 million. 

After making the drop, the plane flew back toward Mexico. The two people who were arrested were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which will be investigating the incident. 

Calexico is a city of more than 38,000 on the border. Its sister city, Mexicali, sits just on the other side. The area is known for having tunnels used by cartels to smuggle narcotics into the United States. Earlier this year, a man who operated one of those tunnels was sentenced to 10 years in prison. 

According to NBC News San Diego, 48-year-old Manuel Gallegos-Jimenez operated the tunnel, which was about a quarter of a mile long and had lights, ventilation and an elevator that could fit 10 people. The tunnel started in Mexico and emerged in the front room of a home in Calexico. 

The case was significant because law enforcement watched the construction of the tunnel unfold after traffickers purchased the house in 2015. The tunnel began operating in February of 2016 and was raided in April of that year.

At that time, law enforcement found nearly 3,000 pounds of drugs at the home, including marijuana worth $1.2 million and cocaine worth $22 million.

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.