SAN DIEGO — Two young men from El Centro have admitted to smuggling 28 pounds of heroin into the United States using drones, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Jonathan Elias, 18, and Brayan Valle, 19, pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court Tuesday to possession of heroin with intent to distribute and aiding and abetting. They face sentencing on Oct. 20.
“With border security tight, drug traffickers have thought of every conceivable method to move their drugs over, under and through the border,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said. “We have found their tunnels, their Cessnas, their jet skis, their pangas, and now we have found their drones.”
According to their guilty pleas, on or about April 28, Elias drove Valle to pick up packages of drugs that were smuggled by drones near an agricultural field in Calexico, near the border.
Using a drone controller, Valle picked up packages of drugs and placed them in a bag. The defendants placed the bag in the trunk of their vehicle and were subsequently stopped by U.S. Border Patrol agents.
As part of their plea, the defendants admitted that they knew there were drugs in the bag, but did not know how much or what type of drug was inside.