C.B.P. News Release

El Paso Air Branch Intercepts Domestic Air Smuggler

(Friday, June 03, 2011)

El Paso, Texas — On June 1, CBP Air and Marine Operations Center requested the launch of an interceptor aircraft from the El Paso Air Branch to track a suspect aircraft that had just departed Oceanside, Calif. Detection enforcement officers suspected the Piper Cherokee airplane and owner were engaged in domestic air smuggling. The branch dispatched a Cessna Citation C-550 to intercept and a Cessna 210 from the Albuquerque air unit to assist.

A short while after an air-to-air intercept was completed, the suspect and trailing OAM aircraft landed at Dalhart Airport in the panhandle of Texas. The suspect pilot and passenger were questioned by Air and Marine agents, and subsequently refused to consent to a search of their aircraft. AMOC coordinated the response of Texas State Troopers and a canine officer, as well as special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations.

The canine alerted to the possible presence of narcotics in the aircraft, and a subsequent search of the aircraft revealed the presence of 68 kilograms of high-grade “hydro