Authorities seize plane with illegal immigrants

December 23, 2008 2:40:31 PM PST
U.S. Department of Homeland Security agencies and law enforcement officers tracked and seized a suspicious aircraft carrying five undocumented Chinese immigrants.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The Air and Marine Operation Center, located in Riverside, California, tracked the suspicious aircraft on radar as it landed in Wharton, Texas, about 70 miles south of Sugar Land and alerted the Houston Air and Marine Branch to observe the aircraft as it proceeded to Sugar Land.

While in Wharton, passengers from the suspicious aircraft deplaned and boarded a waiting vehicle. Local law enforcement officers stopped the vehicle after a high-speed chase. The vehicle's driver disappeared into a wooded area. Five undocumented Chinese aliens remained and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents were notified.

Houston Air and Marine Branch agents observed the aircraft from their helicopter and watched as it landed in Sugar Land. ICE agents requested the air and marine agents to arrest the crew based on the capture of the undocumented Chinese aliens in Wharton. The agents transferred custody of the crew to ICE agents, who will investigate the crew's activities regarding the transport of illegal aliens.

"This successful joint DHS agency and law enforcement effort is a superb example of effective strategic partnerships and operational teamwork in action," said David Lent, Director of Air Operations.

ICE Special Agent in Charge, Robert Rutt echoed Lent's comments, "This successful enforcement operation illustrates the seamless relationship between multiple DHS partners all working together to protect our Homeland."

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