WINTHROP — A man was arrested Nov. 20 after he apparently crossed the international border, landed his airplane at the Methow Valley State Airport and then took off to Canada again with U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopters in pursuit.
The incident occurred when agents from the Bellingham Air and Marine Branch detected the airplane enter the United States and land at the Methow Valley State Airport, according to a Customs and Border Protection announcement. When agents approached the pilot to question him, he jumped into his airplane and flew away.
Agents pursued the airplane in helicopters and observed the pilot throw several bags out of the airplane into the wilderness.
As the airplane approached Canada, CBP received permission to continue the pursuit across the border. Helicopters followed the airplane to the airport in Langley, B.C., where the airplane landed.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Federal Border Enforcement Team, with assistance from the Lower Mainland District Emergency Response Team, RCMP Air Services and the Langley RCMP, arrested the man and seized the airplane.
CBP’s helicopters remained in an over watch position during the arrest, said the U.S. agency.
The man’s identity has not been released.
Canadian officials said the case remains under investigation.
“Due to the exceptional skills of our pilots and air interdiction agents, we were able to ensure that this man did not escape arrest,” said Jeremy Thompson, director of the Bellingham Air and Marine Branch. “Additionally, our partnerships and coordination with Canadian law enforcement agencies played a crucial role in the arrest of this man.”
In fiscal year 2019, Air and Marine Branch enforcement actions resulted 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; 1,575 arrests, and 52,036 apprehensions of illegal aliens, the agency said.