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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Friday, December 20, 2019

4 accused of using ultralight aircraft, offroad vehicles to smuggle meth from Mexico to California

Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat  TY GUS from Mercury News

RIVERSIDE  — Authorities arrested four men suspected in an operation to use an ultralight to fly nearly 200 pounds (90 kilograms) of methamphetamine into Southern California from Mexico, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Monday.

The arrests before dawn Friday came after U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents detected the glider-like aircraft crossing into the U.S. from Calexico, Mexico, according to a statement.

Border Patrol agents chased two off-road vehicles spotted in the area where the ultralight briefly landed near the Salton Sea in Riverside County before returning to Mexico.

 One dune buggy crashed into a canal during the pursuit, authorities said.

Victor Bugarin Perez, 28, Juan Favela Paredez, 25, Juan Carlos Iturriaga Centeno, 33; and Centano’s brother, Leonardo Iturriaga Centeno, 28, could face charges including possession and intent to distribute meth, prosecutors said. All are being held without bail and it wasn’t immediately known if they have attorneys. They’re expected to make court appearances this week.

Agents recovered 26 small containers stuffed with meth, prosecutors said. GPS devices were also seized and were likely used to establish the ultralight’s drop zone,

If convicted, each defendant could face life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Presser from the Justice Department:

4 Face Federal Drug Trafficking Charges after Ultralight Aircraft Used to Smuggle 184 Pounds of Meth from Mexico into United States
          RIVERSIDE, California – Four men who used off-road vehicles to retrieve a load of methamphetamine that was smuggled into the United States on an ultralight aircraft and dropped near the Salton Sea are scheduled to make their first court appearances this afternoon on federal narcotics trafficking charges.
          The four men were arrested early Friday morning after authorities tracked the ultralight aircraft as it entered U.S. airspace and flew to the area of North Shore, a community on the edge of the Salton Sea. After the aircraft descended to a low altitude, Border Patrol agents observed two off-road utility vehicles leaving the area. Two of the men were in one vehicle and were arrested without incident; the other two were taken into custody after they fled from a marked Border Patrol vehicle and drove into the Coachella Canal.
          The four men were named in a criminal complaint filed Saturday that charges each with one count of possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, which carries a statutory maximum penalty of life in federal prison.
          The four defendants are Victor Bugarin-Perez, 28, of Mecca; Juan Favela-Paredez, 25, a Mexican national in the United States illegally; Juan Carlos Iturriaga-Centeno, 33, a Mexican national in the United States illegally; and his brother, Leonardo Iturriaga-Centeno, 28, of North Shore.
          According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, the Border Patrol and the Air and Marine Operations Center in Riverside tracked the ultralight as it crossed the international border near Calexico. After radar surveillance indicated that the ultralight descended and then headed back to Mexico, a California Highway Patrol aircraft saw two vehicles. The two vehicles left the area and were intercepted by a marked Border Patrol vehicle. A Polaris off-road vehicle with the Iturriaga-Centeno brothers stopped, but a Can-Am vehicle with the other two men sped away. The Can-Am vehicle was driven into the Coachella Canal, and the Border Patrol rescued Bugarin-Perez and Favela-Paredez when they were unable to exit the canal.
          After the men were taken into custody, authorities recovered from the canal 26 Tupperware containers that contained a total of 184.5 pounds of methamphetamine. Two GPS devices were found in the Polaris, which authorities believe were attached to the narcotics dropped from the ultralight.
 A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
This investigation is being conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin J. Weir of the Riverside Branch Office.


  1. Looks like they will be spending Christmas in jail. DEA is working hard, on procecuting criminals.

    1. Why should the DEA or anyone be able to tell an adult what they can put in their body? Alcohol destroys families and it is legal! It is legal to kill an unborn child but not for me to recreationally do a line of coke

    2. Because you become a danger to society when your on drugs

    3. Exactly @2:46 just legalize every damn drug like they did in Portugal . no effin problems or murders but no every damn imperialist american wants some type of forced action meaning ( they want to see blood spill for it ) but complain when it hits their streets . just legalize the damn drugs and then just maybe we can stop pointing fingers and blaming each POC for it .

    4. You've got to remember those who enter politics do so because they then get to rule over others. And for the clown at 8:33 that said when doing drugs you become a danger to society when you do drugs, ya like when you get loaded on alcohol your not a danger to society. If we're going to accept the danger that drunk individuals put upon society at large then we'd better be willing to accept that same danger that somebody else who's consumed another class of drugs brings upon all of us. Sadly, the truth of the matter is we have way to many in so-called law enforcement that depend upon narcotics being kept illegal for job security as well as a way of making untraceable money for their off the books activities.

    5. 4:41 you have to remember that government has a function, and part of it is protecting the people they govern from harming themselves or others, their welfare, and against their enemies, foreign and domestic, and just because on occasion they get corrupted or lobbied or courted by big bucks as in the opioid epidemic case, or in the crack epidemic case that went on outside the law but directed and exploited by US government "rogue agents" later presidential pardonned, it is not made right no matter how many wrongs you pile up on it.
      I'd rather tax and fine and confiscate any money that has the smell of drug trafficking or laundromat perfumes, addicts rarely have any cash worth mention anyway...

  2. I wonder if that trip with the ultralight was the maiden voyage (1st trip) or how many were successfully done before they got caught?

  3. What is this GTA V?? I remember playing those missions near the "salton sea" area of the game where planes would drop packages and you would race in dune buggies to pick them up

  4. Good target practice for anti-aircraft units.

    1. You see what I am saying @2:45 every damn u.s citizen that supports war that mind set is exactly what's wrong with this world the thought of using fire with fire but we all know eventually that same fire will burn everything down .

    2. Don't give a crap! They are invading with aircraft and every other means imaginable, and just like Mexico likes to cry when offered help by the USA to deal with the scourge plaguing their country,borders define a nation's sovereignty in physical terms. A nation is not one if there are no borders. Sick of this leftist ideology that abandons the reality on the ground for idealism and platitudes in the clouds.

  5. Wonder how many trips before this one were successful? Those utv's aren't cheap (25k each). Probably would have pulled it off if one of them hadn't crashed. Those machines are designed to to go fast through rough terrain

  6. I don't completely disagree with your point- Prohibition didn't stop alcohol use, but it did a lot to foster crime. However, extorters gonna extort. Avocados are legal and healthy, but people die over them. Bloody cartels are going to have their hands into any commodity with value. We cannot turn back the clock and "not do" what was done to create the environment in which cartels were formed, so where do we go from here?

    1. 9:05 Bar coding instead of license plates, personal IDs to be produced upon demand, police that gets harsh punishment for misbehaving, no traveling without authorization, death penalty for public corruption, and stripping of rights for political crimes...
      I see the need for a little totalitarianism, I could even promise you it would be only for a little while, then you can try and flush the crap 15 times or more...
      If it does not go away don't worry none, after all Stalin only lasted 50 years,
      and Putin is trying his best to do better...


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