Man is charged with flying drones to bring drugs from Mexico

This undated photo provided by the U.S. Border Patrol shows a 2-foot-high drone that a border patrol agent spotted swooping over the border fence, in this Aug. 8, 2017 photo, near a San Diego border crossing. (AP)
Updated 19 August 2017
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Man is charged with flying drones to bring drugs from Mexico

SAN DIEGO: A 25-year-old US citizen has been charged with using a drone to smuggle more than 13 pounds (6.1 kilograms) of methamphetamine from Mexico by drone, an unusually large seizure for what is still a novel technique to bring illegal drugs into the United States, authorities said Friday.
Jorge Edwin Rivera told authorities that he used drones to smuggle drugs five or six times since March, typically delivering them to an accomplice at a nearby gas station in San Diego, according to a statement of probable cause. He said he was to be paid $1,000 for the attempt that ended in his arrest.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration said in a recent annual report that drones are not often used to smuggle drugs from Mexico because they can only carry small loads, though it said they may become more common. In 2015, two people pleaded guilty to dropping 28 pounds (62 kilograms) of heroin from a drone in the border town of Calexico, California. That same year, Border Patrol agents in San Luis, Arizona, spotted a drone dropping bundles with 30 pounds (66 kilograms) of marijuana.
Alana Robinson, acting US attorney for the Southern District of California, said drones haven’t appealed to smugglers because their noise attracts attention and battery life is short. Also, payloads pale compared to other transportation methods, like hidden vehicle compartments, boats or tunnels.
As technology addresses those shortcomings, Robinson expects drones to become more attractive to smugglers. The biggest advantage for them is that the drone operator can stay far from where the drugs are dropped, making it less likely to get caught.
“The Border Patrol is very aware of the potential and are always listening and looking for drones,” Robinson said.
Border Patrol agents in San Diego allegedly encountered Rivera on Aug. 8 about 2,000 yards (1,830 meters) from the Mexico border with the methamphetamine in a lunch box and a 2-foot (0.6-meter) drone hidden in a nearby bush.
Benjamin Davis, Rivera’s attorney, didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment on Friday. Rivera is being held without bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 7.


EU court can hear case on halting Brexit, Scotland’s Court of Session rules

Updated 4 min 30 sec ago
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EU court can hear case on halting Brexit, Scotland’s Court of Session rules

  • The Court of Session decision means the ECJ should say whether it is legally possible for Britain to stay in the world’s biggest trading bloc if and when the UK parliament so decides
EDINBURGH: A legal appeal to decide if Britain alone can change its mind about leaving the European Union should be given consideration by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), Scotland’s highest court said on Friday in a boost to anti-Brexit campaigners.
Rounding out a week of bad news for Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans, petitioners argued successfully that legal certainty about the process is needed in advance of any British parliamentary vote because no country has ever withdrawn from the European Union.
The Court of Session decision means the ECJ should say whether it is legally possible for Britain to stay in the world’s biggest trading bloc if and when the UK parliament so decides.
Brexit continues to be mired in doubt after EU leaders cautioned Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday that unless she presented an alternative to her current proposals, Britain would crash out of the EU without a deal.
Jo Maugham, a lawyer funding the judicial appeal, described the Scottish court’s decision to refer the issue to the European court as an “absolute bombshell” for the government.
London has argued that the question of whether Britain alone can stop Brexit is irrelevant, since it does not intend to change its mind.
The Court of Session disagreed.
“If Members of Parliament are to cast their votes in a responsible manner, it is surely obvious that they should be properly advised as to the existing legal position so far as that may be relevant to their deliberations,” Lord Carloway said in his judgment.
Britain’s Brexit ministry said it was “disappointed” by the decision and would carefully consider its response.
“As the government has repeatedly said, we are committed to implementing the result of the (2016) referendum and will not be revoking Article 50 (withdrawal clause),” a spokesman said.
Friday’s decision could now, theoretically, face another appeal before the UK Supreme Court, although legal sources close to the case believe that option is unlikely.
Pro-European petitioners argued that while there is no legal doubt that Britain could stop Brexit with the permission of the other 27-member states, it should seek to establish a legal right to do so unilaterally whether the rest of the bloc likes it or not.
The lawmakers behind the challenge represent electoral areas in Scotland which voted strongly to remain in the EU in the June 2016 referendum. The United Kingdom as a whole voted to leave.