CBP Helicopters Pursue Plane that Illegally Crossed Border, Landed, and Fled to Canada

Nov 28, 2019

Photo: US Customs & Border Protection, Air & Marine Operations

Agents from the Bellingham Air and Marine Branch of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Wednesday used helicopters to pursue a man suspected of illegally flying his airplane into the U.S. and landing before taking off again and fleeing into Canada.

Agents from the Bellingham Air and Marine Branch detected the airplane entering U.S. airspace on Nov. 20 and landing at the Methow Valley Airport in Winthrop, according to a CBP release on the incident.

When agents attempted to question the pilot, he jumped back in his plane and flew away, the release said, and agents pursued in helicopters. During the pursuit, agents reportedly saw the pilot throw several bags out of the airplane into the wilderness. The CBP received permission to continue pursuing the plane into Canada, the release said, where the plane landed at the Langley Regional Airport (YNJ).

At the airport, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Federal Border Enforcement Team, assisted by the Lower Mainland District Emergency Response Team, RCMP Air Services and the Langley RCMP, arrested the man and seized the airplane. The agents aboard the CBP helicopters watched during the arrest.

“Due to the exceptional skills of our pilots and air interdiction agents, we were able to ensure that this man did not escape arrest,” Bellingham Air and Marine Branch Director Jeremy Thompson said in the release. “Additionally, our partnerships and coordination with Canadian law enforcement agencies played a crucial role in the arrest of this man.”

The pilot’s name was not included in the release.

According to the CBP website, the Bellingham Air and Marine Branch is responsible for more than 90 miles of land border and 164 miles of water border with Canada.

Nationwide, Air and Marine officers have helped in the seizure or disruption of 284,825 pounds of cocaine, 101,874 pounds of marijuana, 51,058 pounds of methamphetamine, 935 weapons and $34.1 million during Fiscal Year 2019, according to the release. They also have been part of 1,575 arrests and 52,036 apprehensions of illegal aliens.

(News Source: AviationPros.com, The Bellingham Herald, David Rasbach)