Del Rio, Texas - An ongoing drug smuggling investigation by federal authorities in East Texas began with the help of CBP Office of Air and Marine pilots from the Del Rio Air Branch.
Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force officers in Tyler contacted the OAM office in San Angelo, on November 1, seeking assistance in an ongoing investigation. Acting on information about an impending marijuana smuggling attempt, Task Force officers tracked the movements of an airplane as it traveled from Marshal to San Marcos. OAM Air Interdiction agents from San Angelo contacted San Marcos Municipal Air Port and learned the suspect aircraft - a Piper PA-28 Arrow - had been loaded with a large duffel bag and departed with two subjects on board.
The San Angelo-based AIAs followed the aircraft to Marshal where they landed and detained the two subjects and conducted a ramp check of their aircraft. The pilot consented to a search of the aircraft, but balked at letting agents open the duffel bag. Task Force officers contacted the local police department, requesting a drug detector canine, which gave a positive alert to the presence of drugs.
Inside the duffel bag, agents found 13 pounds of hydroponic marijuana, with an estimated value of $85,000. On board the aircraft, agents also found .9 grams of methamphetamine and $14,000 in U.S. currency.
Investigation into the case by agents of DEA's Tyler Resident Office continues.
"The Air Interdiction Team was a tremendous asset to this operation," said DEA Task Force Officer Dan Neal. "They executed this operation with professionalism and integrity. I commend them for their actions."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.