Federal officials have broken an extensive criminal network that used fast, low-flying helicopters to smuggle a potent form of marijuana across the border from Canada through remote Western public lands, says USA Today. The smugglers sometimes returned to British Columbia with loads of cocaine from the USA aboard the same aircraft. Some 45 people have been indicted. Authorities called it one of the most brazen criminal schemes ever uncovered along the 4,000-mile U.S. border with Canada. Pilots flew 50 feet over treetops and swooped through mountain passes to deliver cargos of “B.C. Bud,” a form of marijuana cultivated by growers in British Columbia.
“It’s really the first time we were able to discover and take down a large-scale aerial smuggling operation between the U.S. and Canada,” said Julie Myers, assistant secretary of Homeland Security. Michael Kostelnik, assistant commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said the Operation Frozen Timber case shows that the government cannot ignore its northern border even as attention focuses on securing the border with Mexico. “The northern border – honestly, we don’t know what’s happening in a lot of these areas,” he said.