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"Airplane seizure at Brawley Airport connected to smuggling operation, feds say"

Friday, January 20, 2012

Airplane seizure at Brawley Airport connected to smuggling operation, feds
The Imperial Valley (CA) Press

BRAWLEY - Two men could face charges after U.S. Border Patrol agents learned
an airplane at the municipal airport here was allegedly used to smuggle
undocumented immigrants, officials said.

The arrest of the suspects that federal authorities would not identify marks
the third time an airplane was seized in connection with such smuggling
since 2010, a press statement reported.

Federal authorities didn't make the news about last week's arrest public as
the information was in the process of awaiting approval, said Border Patrol
Agent Jonathan Creiglow on Thursday.

Few details about the Jan. 10 arrest were available but Creiglow said it
wasn't known how long the smuggling operation has been going on.

The statement reported that Border Patrol agents were conducting "a
surveillance" in Brawley and caught two suspected undocumented immigrants
being dropped off at an undisclosed location.

The agents pulled over the vehicle and a subsequent interview of the driver
and the passenger, who are from the U.S., was conducted.

It was learned that one of the men was a pilot who had an airplane at the
Brawley airport. It was also determined that the two suspects were planning
to use the aircraft "to further their smuggling operation," the statement

Creiglow said he did not know whether the two undocumented immigrants that
had been dropped off that day were actually flown in.

But Creiglow said the aircraft is a Piper II, which is a single-engine

Brawley Public Works Director Yasmin Arellano said she never heard of any
past connection between the smuggling of undocumented immigrants and the
local airport. 

But Creiglow said there had been an aircraft seizure at the Brawley Airport
in August 2010 and another in 2011 but it was not clear whether that one
involved the Brawley airport.

Neither name of the two suspects Border Patrol agents arrested was made
available but Creiglow said the U.S. Attorney's Office is still
investigating the matter.

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