Some Mexican drug traffickers are getting more creative, using ultralight airplanes to drop a few hundred pounds of marijuana at a time into the U.S., NPR reports. It’s one more method in a smuggling portfolio that appears to be expanding as pressure increases on the ground from American law enforcement.
The federal government says the number of ultralights illegally crossing into the U.S. nearly doubled last year, when agents recorded 228 cases. The pilots often fly on one seat, exposed to the open air. That seat is attached to a glider wing and an engine. With about three gallons of gas in the tank, their range is no more than a few dozen miles. “The ultralight sounds like a faint lawnmower, and [the noise] gets stronger and stronger as it comes toward you,” Kelly says. At least two ultralights loaded with pot have crashed in Arizona.