By the Associated Press
Published Tuesday, May 3, 2011 12:20 PM CDT The Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputy was patrolling near State Route 82 when he radioed dispatch to say that he’d spotted an ultralight plane dropping a load of possible narcotics in the area of Via Frontera and Ruby Road in Rio Rico.

When the deputy and Border Patrol agents arrived at the scene, they found an abandoned vehicle and 1,753 pounds of marijuana. But there were no suspects in the area and the ultralight darted away toward Mexico without a trace.

This March 24 incident recorded on a sheriff’s dispatch report was an example of drug smugglers using low-flying aircraft that look like motorized hang gliders to circumvent new fences along the U.S. border with Mexico. The planes, which began appearing in Arizona three years ago, are now turning up in remote parts of California and New Mexico. 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 like dropping a bomb from an aircraft,