The military was involved in a shootout with a suspected drug trafficker Saturday after a suspicious plane was tracked to a landing strip in western Durango.
The Ministry of National Defense (Sedena) said in a statement that its air surveillance system detected an unidentified aircraft that traveled to Mexico from South America.
Three Air Force planes were deployed to monitor its movement through Mexican air space before it landed 14 kilometers from the town of Tamazula.
Sedena said that three military helicopters transported army and Air Force personnel to the location where the plane landed and that they were met with gunfire when they arrived.
The military personnel returned fire and “an aggressor” was wounded, the ministry said, adding that the injured person was offered first aid before he was arrested and transported to a hospital in Culiacán, Sinaloa.
Soldiers inspected the suspicious aircraft and found a firearm and 30 packages containing a substance believed to be cocaine. The packages, which weighed over 300 kilograms, the gun and the plane were turned over to the relevant authorities to aid their investigations, Sedena said.
“These activities were carried out in accordance with the rule of law and with respect for human rights, thus preventing these kinds of addictive substances from affecting the health and development of Mexican youth,” the ministry said.
Despite that claim, the cocaine was in all likelihood destined for the United States, the world’s largest market for illicit drugs.
5 seizures in 4 days, totaling over 3 million fentanyl pills, 19.5 lbs fentanyl powder, 251 lbs of meth, 47 lbs of cocaine, 2.6 lbs of heroin and approx 350 Yaba tablets. This massive amount of dangerous narcotics will not reach the streets. Excellent work by Team Nogales! pic.twitter.com/MFg7L4Frd7
— Port Director Michael W. Humphries (@CBPPortDirNOG) November 14, 2022
Massive amounts of narcotics flow into the U.S. from Mexico, but some shipments of illicit cargo come to an abrupt halt at the two countries’ shared border. One border crossing where United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has stopped a significant quantity of drugs entering the U.S. in recent days is that between Nogales, Sonora, and Nogales, Arizona.
Michael W. Humphries, CBP port director in Nogales, reported on Twitter Monday that there had been five drug seizures in four days. He said that over 3 million fentanyl pills, almost nine kilograms of fentanyl powder, 114 kg of methamphetamine, 2 kg of cocaine, 1 kg of heroin and approximately 350 yaba (methamphetamine and caffeine) tablets were confiscated.
“This massive amount of dangerous narcotics will not reach the streets. Excellent work by Team Nogales!” Humphries wrote.
Some of the drugs were concealed in commercial shipments of tortillas, according to information posted by the CBP official.
Mexican and U.S. authorities have acknowledged that the northward flow of fentanyl — a powerful synthetic opioid that killed tens of thousands of Americans last year — is a particularly serious binational problem. The drug, and its precursor chemicals, are shipped from Asia to Pacific coast ports in Mexico, where criminal organizations pick up the contraband for processing and/or shipment to the U.S.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard said last month that combating the smuggling of weapons and fentanyl will remain a priority for Mexico and the United States over the coming year.
“We have a common plan for 2023, which is to drastically reduce the trafficking of weapons to Mexico and … to increase controls on precursor chemicals and the movement of fentanyl [to the United States],” he said.
Mexico News Daily