**Posted by Phineas
Cartel smugglers may be walking pustules who profit by selling poison and wreak havoc on their own nation(1), but give hem credit for adaptability: Border-control advocates have been screaming for years about building a fence along the Mexican border? Fine The drug-smugglers will just find another way across — or over:
The visiting British pilots were training near a naval air station one night this month when their helicopter came within about 150 feet of an ultralight plane flying without lights. The ultralight darted away toward Mexico without a trace.
The near-disaster over the Southern California desert was an example of drug smugglers using low-flying aircraft that look like motorized hang gliders to circumvent new fences along the U.S. border with Mexico. The planes, which began appearing in Arizona three years ago, are now turning up in remote parts of California and New Mexico.
And in a new twist, the planes rarely touch the ground. Pilots simply pull levers that drop aluminum bins filled with about 200 pounds of marijuana for drivers who are waiting on the ground with blinking lights or glow-sticks. Within a few minutes, the pilots are back in Mexico.
“It’s like dropping a bomb from an aircraft,” said Jeffrey Calhoon, chief of the Border Patrol’s El Centro sector, which stretches through alfalfa farms, desert scrub and sand dunes in southeast California.
The Border Patrol has erected hundreds of miles of fences and vehicle barriers along the border and added thousands of new agents, so drug smugglers are going over, under and around.
I particularly like the “bombing run” aspect.
While the use of ultra-lights is perhaps the most unusual development in the chess match along the border, it’s not the only one: cartel smugglers also use tunnels under the border and boats on the Pacific coast to go around it.
In one sense, it’s an illustration of markets in action: with demand so high in the US, the cartels are going to do their darnedest to make sure they get their goods to the buyers.
Move and counter, thrust and parry.
AFTERTHOUGHT: If drugs are being passed over the border via ultralight, what —or who— else is making it across?
(1) In fact, that’s just what they are.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)