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Thu, Oct 02, 2008

Bandidos Swipe Five Planes From Mexico Airport

Invaders Seized Officer's Gun, Took Time To Fuel Up

In the US, federal threats to impose oppressive security measures at small general aviation airports are generally viewed as a solution looking for a problem. But in Mexico, authorities are battling an epidemic of small aircraft thefts as drug rings steal planes to get cocaine north to the US.

Mexican media report the army there has confiscated 245 small planes and helicopters from drug runners just since November of last year.

Now, Reuters reports about 20 armed men stole five small planes from a private airstrip in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa Tuesday. Emma Quiroz of the government's anti-organized crime operations say the invaders overpowered a police officer, seized his gun, tied him up, topped off the planes with fuel and took off.

The planes had been stored in a hangar since being grounded earlier this year by the army, which claimed they presented irregularities that violated civil aviation and airport laws.

Quiroz's office could not be sure Tuesday's incident was drug-related, but said it was investigating whether any authorities had been complicit, and was, "...taking the necessary actions to determine the whereabouts of these airplanes and the criminals who took part in the robbery."



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