Ultralight aircraft carrying marijuana crashes in East County

Crash happened in Laguna Mountains

SAN DIEGO - An ultralight aircraft carrying about 250 pounds of marijuana crashed into a dead oak tree in the Laguna Mountains, according to federal authorities.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said Customs and Border Protection officers on routine air patrol spotted the downed aircraft at about 8 a.m.

Agents from ICE, Homeland Security Investigations and the Border Patrol responded to the crash scene, which was at an elevation of about 4,000 feet.

Once there, agents found the marijuana cargo, discarded gear and footprints leading away from the scene. Authorities believe the pilot was not injured and was able to flee the scene.

"HSI agents in San Diego are aggressively pursuing leads involving the dangerous use of ultralight aircraft to smuggle small loads of drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border," said Mike Carney, acting special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. "From all indications, the pilot in this instance escaped relatively unscathed, but that doesn't diminish the serious danger posed by ultralight smuggling activity in general."    

San Diego Sector's Chief Patrol Agent Paul A. Beeson said, "This crash is another reminder of the extreme lengths transnational criminal organizations will go to in order to infiltrate our communities with illegal drugs.  Our agents will continue to protect America by keeping watch over our land border, the maritime environment, and even the skies."

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