New way to smuggle drugs into the U.S.: Ultralight sorties

Posted on April 29, 2011

Realizing that “sortie” is a military term, you might ask yourself if it’s appropriate to use in this context.  I say, “Why not?”  After all, the drug cartels are proving as well organized and in some cases, as well equipped as a major military force.

Regardless of the terminology used, the cartels are stepping up a drug delivery method that’s proving to be both efficient and quick which makes the smuggler even harder to catch:

CALEXICO, Calif. — A near-disastrous collision this month between a military helicopter training over the Southern California desert and an ultralight airplane buzzing toward Mexicoillustrated how drug smugglers are using the low-flying aircraft to circumvent new fences along the U.S. border.

 And in a new twist, the planes rarely touch the ground. Pilots simply pull levers that drop aluminum bins filled with about 200 pounds of marijuana for drivers who are waiting on the ground with blinking lights or glow-sticks. Within a few minutes, the pilots are back in Mexico.

It’s a simple, yet effective method of getting those drugs across the border with little risk to the pilot.   It ranks right up there with the drug catapult.  Ironically, now that we have sorties and catapults in the mix, the “war” on drugs is starting to live up to its name.


It appears the strategy of using ultralights to drop loads of drugs from across the border isn’t limited to California:

 YUMA, Ariz. – Border agents in southwestern Arizona found 278 pounds of marijuana they believe were dropped from an ultralight aircraft flown by a drug smuggler.

Border Patrol Agent Robert Lowry said Monday that the U.S. Air and Marine Operations Center in Riverside, Calif. notified Yuma agents of a possible ultralight incursion Friday.

Some agents on the ground spotted an ultralight in the air, but by the time an agency helicopter got there it was back in Mexico.

Soon after that, agents found 10 bundles of marijuana on the ground and noticed a pickup truck nearby.

The person found nearby to pick up the load turned out to have a history of narcotics charges and 261 pounds of pot at his house…….imagine that.