FBI looking for pilot of high altitude drone that buzzed a Border Patrol helicopter

Mysteries

ARIZONA DESERT, AZ – MARCH 3: A Customs and Border Protection UH60A “BlackHawk” helicopter departs Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on a night patrol March 13, 2005 in Tuscon, Arizona. Using InfraRed and Low Light television images and radar data downlinked from other surveillance assets, the CBP BlackHawk night missions deal with the interdiction of both undocumented aliens and narco-traffickers who attempt to use the cover of darkness to avoid detection. (Photo by Alan Staats/Getty Images)

MYSTERY WIRE (TUCSON, Ariz.) — The FBI is seeking to identify whoever is responsible for illegally flying a drone near a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter about three months ago.

On the night of Feb. 9, Border Protection employees told Tucson police that a drone was flying dangerously close to their helicopter.

Over the next few hours, multiple law enforcement agencies worked to find the drone’s operator but were unsuccessful.

The FBI said the drone appeared to launch from an area about 5 miles (8.05 kilometers) south of Tucson and flew across Tucson and north over Marana.

In 2018, the Federal Aviation Administration made it a criminal act for the unsafe operation of unmanned aircraft. FBI officials said anyone flying a drone as prohibited by law can face federal criminal charges, fines and imprisonment.

FBI Seeking Information on Illegal Drone Activity Near Tucson

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking to identify the person(s) responsible for illegally flying a drone near a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter. On February 9, 2021, at 10:30 p.m., employees of CBP informed the Tucson Police Department that a drone was flying dangerously close to their helicopter. Over the next few hours, multiple law enforcement agencies worked to locate the drone’s operator but were unsuccessful. The drone appeared to launch from an area about 5 miles south of Tucson and flew across Tucson and north over Marana. No one was injured and no other similar incidents have been reported involving this specific drone.

In 2018, The Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act included 18 USC 39B, which federally criminalizes “Unsafe Operation of Unmanned Aircraft.” Specifically, knowing or reckless interference or disruption of a manned aircraft, and the operation of unmanned aircraft in close proximity to airports. While the drone(s) did not come into direct contact with an airplane or cause a pilot to make an evasive maneuver, the actions are illegal and extremely dangerous.

Anyone flying a drone as prohibited by law can face federal criminal charges, fines, and imprisonment. It is possible the drone operator(s) are not aware they are violating the law. We encourage anyone with information to assist in this investigation to contact the FBI at 623-466-1999. Tips can also be reported to tips.fbi.gov.

When operating a drone, the FBI encourages the public to abide by federal and state laws. You can learn more at faa.gov/uas/.

FBI.gov

A Tucson television station also reported the drone was “Modified enough to reach an altitude of 14,000, speeds in excess of 100 mph with a headwind, and range of 70 miles.”

This is the latest in a string of events in the region, according to The Drive. The site also examines other recent encounters of mysterious drones.

The term ‘drones’ has been written about extensively since it was revealed US Navy ships were swarmed by ‘drones’ in July, 2019 while on exercises off the coast of San Diego. It’s now commonly accepted the term ‘drones’ was used to describe Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, of UAPs as the government now calls UFOs.

That series of events led to the leak of videos and pictures showing unidentified craft, including pyramid-shaped objects above the USS Russell and an unidentified sphere following the USS Omaha.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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