On a cold winter night in the high desert, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent looks for signs of ultralight aircraft, the motorized hang gliders that daring drug smugglers fly low over the US-Mexican border, says the Christian Science Monitor. “Basically, ultralight smuggling is a quick, easy, and efficient way of smuggling marijuana into the U.S.,” says agent Kevin Kelly in Nogales, Az.,
Drug traffickers trying to conquer a fortified Southwest border have used catapults, tunnels, and boats to smuggle in their products. They have increasingly turned to ultralights, which can carry several hundred pounds of illicit cargo ready to drop to accomplices on the ground. In the year that ended Sept. 30, Customs and Border Protection recorded 223 ultralight incursions along the 2,000-mile border. That is fewer than in 2010 but about double the 2009 numbers. Last month, the Senate unanimously passed legislation to toughen penalties for those who use ultralights to smuggle drugs, a concept pushed by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ).