'Disturbing' new tactics: Mexican cartels use ultralight aircraft to smuggle illegals into U.S


#1

Border Patrol agents tracked an ultralight aircraft as it crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and made it 30 miles into the country early Tuesday morning — and when they got to the landing spot, they found two Chinese men who had been smuggled in by the aircraft.

The ultralight had escaped, lifting back off and returning to Mexico, but agents say they did manage to nab a Mexican man waiting in a vehicle near the landing zone in southern California, apparently ready to pick up the Chinese men and deliver them to their destination.

Experts said they had seen ultralights, small aircraft powered by lawn mower-sized engines, used to drop loads of drugs in the U.S. But they were surprised to see them being used to ferry illegal immigrants.

“It’s disturbing,” said Chris Harris, who retired this year after a two-decade career as a Border Patrol agent in San Diego and who suggested it could be a way for cartels to get dangerous people across the border. “If you want to get some operatives in this country very quickly, that’s a way.”

Gloria I. Chavez, chief patrol agent in the El Centro sector of the Border Patrol, agreed that ultralights pose a threat to “national security.”

“These aircraft are able to carry small payloads of dangerous cargo or dangerous people,” she said.

Tuesday’s incident was the second ultralight incursion reported this week near Calexico. Two days earlier, Border Patrol agents tracked an ultralight that crossed the border and descended north of the town, then turned around and flew back toward Mexico.

When agents reached the location they say they found 60 duct-taped bundles with nearly 130 pounds of methamphetamine, with an estimated value of more than $1.4 million.

In Arizona, meanwhile, Border Patrol agents this week said they uncovered a new cross-border tunnel being dug between Nogales on the Mexican side and Nogales on the U.S. side.

The tunnel, which had not been completed, began just a few feet into Mexico and ran 44 feet into the U.S.

Cartels are quick to adapt to U.S. authorities’ efforts, using everything from night-vision goggles to spotters placed on strategic hilltops inside the U.S. to direct smuggling operations. They also use cell phones to guide migrants to pickup locations and use smartphone apps that can hide identities to recruit drivers.

Over the last few years, agents and local law enforcement agencies along the southwest border have spotted drones being used to deliver drugs, and in some cases catapults or T-shirt cannons used to fire loads over the border fence.

Authorities say they don’t have a good ability to detect ultralights or drones, often relying on luck to spot them. And there’s no set policy for trying to interdict an ultralight other than to follow it and hope to catch it on the ground.

Suggestions of shooting them down have been met with resistance by government officials, who say the chances of misidentification or of something going wrong are too high.

A House immigration bill this year called for better detection capabilities for ultralights as part of a broader deal on border security and illegal immigrant “Dreamers.” That legislation was defeated on the floor.

Authorities recorded 534 suspected ultralight incursions from Mexico from 2011 through 2016, mostly to locations in the Arizona desert, the Government Accountability Office said in a 2017 report.

A Senate committee report in 2015 said cartels were even using juveniles to fly the ultralights because they weighed less, leaving the aircraft free to carry bigger loads. Cartels also figured U.S. officials were less likely to prosecute juveniles for smuggling.

The 2017 GAO report had downplayed the idea of ultralights being used to smuggle people, making this week’s incident all the more stunning.

The two Chinese men smuggled across were ages 23 and 30. They made their own way from China to Tijuana, then used a social media app to hook up with a smuggler, said David Kim, assistant chief patrol agent for the El Centro sector.

He said they reported being in the air for as long as two hours before they were dropped off near Calipatria, a community about 30 miles north of the border.

Chief Kim said the men gave inconsistent statements about how much they paid, but a Washington Times analysis of court documents shows the average rate for a Chinese national to be smuggled into the U.S. through a port of entry this year is nearly $31,000. A Chinese man smuggled in late last week paid $40,000, while some pay as much as $70,000 apiece.

Chief Kim said those high prices likely limit the universe of people able to afford being airlifted in.

“Smuggling humans via ULA has not been something that we’ve seen as a common occurrence,” he said. “Obviously it is cost prohibitive for many of those seeking to illegally enter the U.S. and has almost exclusively been used for narcotics smuggling.”

He recalled one other instance within the last year when a Chinese national was also brought in by ultralight. In that case, the migrant was also in possession of narcotics, likely boosting the value of the smuggling event to the cartels.

In another case in 2016, border authorities spotted a suspicious helicopter and reported it local police, who used their own aircraft to track it to the Chino Municipal Airport, where four men got out and jumped into a waiting sport utility vehicle.

Police stopped the SUV and held the men for Border Patrol agents, who found them to be in the country illegally. They said they had snuck across the border, then paid to be flown north, skipping over the highway checkpoints that snare many illegal immigrants.

Chief Kim did not name either of the Chinese migrants nor the Mexican man arrested as the vehicle driver in Tuesday’s incident.

He did say the 36-year-old Mexican had a recently issued valid border crossing card, so he was not in the U.S. illegally. He is being prosecuted for human smuggling, Chief Kim said.

The ultralight air lifts come as President Trump is battling Congress for more money for border fencing, saying it would stop dangerous people and drugs.

Critics have said illegal contraband would go over or under a wall.

Mr. Harris, the retired Border Patrol agent, said that may be true in some limited cases, but he said hundreds of thousands of people can’t squeeze through the tunnels or fly ultralights over.


#2

What can we say? Gotta give them credit for ingenuity!

Fund the wall and the necessary tech and personnel needed to secure the border, problem solved.

We won’t however see it done anytime soon because both sides are profiting from the illegal crossings and contraband.


#3

If you have money and want to enter the US, they will find a way as we can’t keep up with the walking masses.


#4

[

Shoulder-fired missile - Wikipedia

](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoulder-fired_missile)


#5

Border patrol is to busy baby sitting illegal children crossing the border.


#6

The entire American side of the wall should be seeded with antipersonnel mines. Then just focus on legal entry points.


#7

So illegal immigrants are in fact future engineers. Who would have THUNK!


#8

Of course we can, that’s why we have satellites, ground sensors, cameras, aircraft and drones.

We know exactly where any vehicle is moving along the border as well as any large mass of people.

We also have night vision (including thermal) to augment all of the above and issued to the BP and military personnel along the border.

As long as we have the personnel and transportation assets we have the ability to interdict them anywhere along the border.


#9

Yes, by all means we should try and emulate North Korea, the Soviet Union and East Germany.

Shall we call that space “no man’s land” or “The DMZ”?

Some of you folks are utterly ridiculous.


#10

This wouldn’t make sense in any language.


#11

[

Victims of Illegal Aliens Memorial - OJJPAC.org

www.ojjpac.org/memorial.asp
](http://www.ojjpac.org/memorial.asp) I’m guessing you do not have a loved one or family member on this list, correct? Well I don’t either, but I personally can imagine the living Hell that the families of these victims are going through. Please take your time with what you consider a rational reply. We wait. IS IT WORTH THE RISK ???


#12

Thread reminds me of one of my favorite songs.


#13

Authorities say they don’t have a good ability to detect ultralights or drones, often relying on luck to spot them. And there’s no set policy for trying to interdict an ultralight other than to follow it and hope to catch it on the ground.

Suggestions of shooting them down have been met with resistance by government officials, who say the chances of misidentification or of something going wrong are too high.

Regarding the drones. Is this a joke or we won’t shoot down ultralights? Because if we can’t even shoot down a drone heaven help us.

Glad to see for all of our technological advances we rely on luck to spot ultralights. /sarcasm


#14

The upside is they can at best haul 1 or 2 people.

The downside is the Mexican border runners have another way to move people into the US.


#15

Of course all those wonderful electronics are useless as they are already on US soil.

Until we have a wall the ability to immediately return them across the border this nonsense will continue. Thanks democrats for your content for the country and American citizens.

llegal immigrant killed 3 after ‘sanctuary’ release from custody, ICE says

An illegal alien living in the United States has been charged with killing a North Carolina man in a deadly hit-and-run accident. Neri Damian Cruz-Carmona, a 26-year-old illegal

Tessa Tranchant, 16, was killed on March 30, 2007 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Tessa and her friend, Ali Kunhardt, were sitting at a stoplight when Alfredo Ramos, an illegal alien from Mexico who was intoxicated and speeding, rear-ended their car.

An illegal immigrant accused of killing five in a violent spree at separate spots in Kansas and Missouri - and who was mistakenly released by police authorities in September, as well as deported …

Freed to kill in a sanctuary city: Illegal immigrant gangster ‘robbed then murdered man at rail station’ weeks after being released in Denver despite request from ICE to keep him jailed

Illegal immigrant, 19, charged in ‘almost unimaginable’ murder of three people in Florida, including pregnant teen … Starlett Pitts was six months pregnant when she was killed

How many Americans would be alive today if illegals were deported from the US and the border sealed.


#16

About ten years ago I watched a demonstration of a siege machine, it was used for dispatching lumps of stone and unwanted messengers into a siege target.

I observed this actual machine fire a 25kg lump of concrete rather like a pitcher would toss a ball from the mound, the slight difference being that the concrete projectile was still travelling horizontally after 400 yards when it disappeared from sight. Impressive!

The humane amongst you might devise a time-delay parachute which would deploy at some point after the immigrant had crossed the border, thus safely delivering the ‘grunt’ back to their home soil. I would suggest fitting such a device to approximately one third of the immigrants so returned, thereby leaving some survivors to spread the message of dissuasion.

It appears that a deal of engineering has gone into optimising this device. Here are the results of an enthusiast addressing the efficiency issues.


#17

Maybe we should go back to chopping off hands for shoplifters and theives too?

How about the death penalty for speaking out against the gov’t?

Maybe the stocks for voicing an unpopular opinion publicly?

I’m as tough on illegals, particularly criminal illegals as anyone with common sense and the ability reason can be but what you are suggesting would not only be illegal, it’s idiotic and utterly ridiculous.

No sane, or serious person would even consider mining the border especially on our side of the border.

Most of the victims could have been spared if we simply enforced existing law.


#18

No, we can’t shoot them down.

About all they can do is follow them after they penetrate and try to catch the pilots/cargo once they land.

Even attempting to force them down with Helo’s would be deemed by the courts as reckless and deadly conduct.

Could we stop them? Yes, with enough helicopters and personnel but the courts would never allow it.


#19

The wall will be on US soil too. Everything we do to interdict or deter them has to be done on US soil other than working with their own gov’ts and the gov’t of Mexico to reduce the flow across Mexico’s southern border and Mexico propper.

The whole point of the wall and monitoring both electronic and by humans is about deterrence. If we make it difficult enough to get in most will not come in the first place because they’ll know they aren’t getting far enough into the country to work.


#20

Well… yes the comments might seem that way but I did not fuck with my father for a reason… I knew that the sky would fall if I did… Illegals… they just laugh because the know that we have a mountain of law that says they can’t be touched but with kid gloves… and three squares.