Why Drive When You Can Fly?

Transporting drugs across the country is a risky business. Police are patrolling the major shipment routes and every day there are reports of traffic stops that end up in drug arrests. In some parts of the country this has even become a booming business for law enforcement. Small departments can make large sums when they confiscate cash (and a vehicle for resale) from smugglers. So why drive if there’s an alternative.

An arrest at Elko airport demonstrates how it’s being done. A chartered flight out of California made a pit stop there for fuel and a tire repair. Airport officers ran a drug dog through the plane and discovered more than 80 pounds of marijuana, over two pounds of methamphetamine and almost two thousand ecstasy pills.

Arrested was a Mexican citizen, Julio Casear Zaragosa-Romero. He is charged with three counts of drug trafficking. The drugs were concealed inside his luggage. The accused claimed he used money he received for smuggling the drugs to pay for getting them into the United States. Police did not say how the drugs made it through customs at the US border.

Police say they suspect Zaragosa-Romero is connected with the Los Zetas drug cartel which operates out of Mexico. Based on the flight plan for the charter, the drugs were destined for the Midwest. Had they not been discovered, the drugs would have made it to the next stops on the route – Des Moines and Toledo.

Planes are not normally used for small loads of drugs simply because they are too expensive to replace if the plane gets confiscated. The dollar amount has to warrant the risk. However, with a charter flight, you don’t need to own the plane – you just pay to take an “air taxi” around the country to make deliveries.

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