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Fighter Jets Intercept Plane with 40 Pounds of Marijuana Aboard

Pilot Flew Too Close to Marine One

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By Myles Collier, Christian Post Contributor
February 17, 2012|10:56 am

Two fighter jets intercepted a small plane when it entered restricted airspace near Los Angeles while the president was aboard Marine One.

The privately-owned Cessna aircraft entered the same airspace as the president and was diverted to Long Beach Airport while being accompanied by the fighter jets.

Once the plane landed at Long Beach Airport, authorities discovered that the pilot had hidden about 40 pounds of marijuana in the aircraft, which has been valued at around $ 160,000.

The Secret Service stated that the president was never in any danger even when the emergency procedures were enacted to remove the unauthorized aircraft from "restricted airspace."

"I can confirm that a plane entered the airspace of Marine One, the restricted airspace, and then was landed at Long Beach airport. The occupants were held by local authorities until agents could respond to interview them, and it was determined that there was no protective interest," a spokesman said.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command explained that it sent two F-16 fighters from March Air Reserve Base to intercept the aircraft over Los Angeles at 2:30 p.m.

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman, Virginia Kice, said the department's Homeland Security Investigations unit questioned the pilot and then turned him over to the Long Beach police. He remains in custody and faces local prosecution, Kice said.

"The Federal Aviation Administration had notified pilots that there was an eight-mile radius around Los Angeles International Airport that was off-limits to air traffic yesterday. It was that radius that the Cessna violated," spokesman Brie Sachse said.

Officials declined to release the Cessna's tail number stating the Secret Service does not identify planes involved in security incidents.

After a short wait in Los Angeles, President Obama took off aboard Air Force One to San Francisco for a fundraiser.

 

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