Border jumper tossed bags out of plane before arrest at Langley Airport

U.S. Customs and the RCMP worked to catch the suspect

A border hopper in a small aircraft was chased back into Canada by U.S. border patrol agents last Wednesday before being met by a host of police officers at the Langley Regional Airport.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Bellingham Air and Marine Branch detected an airplane entering American airspace on Nov. 20 and landing at the Methow Valley State Airport in Winthrop, a tiny town of a few hundred people in Washington State, roughly southwest of Osoyoos.

According to U.S. Customs, when agents approached the pilot to question him, “he jumped into his airplane and flew away.”

Agents in planes and helicopters pursued the mysterious pilot north.

On the way, they saw him throw several bags out of the plane into the wilderness below.

U.S. Customs received permission to keep chasing the suspect across the 49th parallel and into Canada, where they followed the plane to the Langley airport.

The pilot was met on the ground by the RCMP Federal Border Enforcement Team, Emergency Response Team, RCMP Air Services (which flies helicopters out of Langley airport) and the local detachment.

He was arrested and his plane seized, as U.S. Customs helicopters hovered overhead.

“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.”

The Methow Valley Airport has a single runway and taxiway with no control tower, said G. Paul Wolf, who manages a host of small airports in Washington.

The airport is busiest in the summer when it is a staging point for smoke jumpers who fight fires, he said. It also has a self-serve fuel station.

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