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article imageMarijuana found on plane violating Obama's Marine One airspace

By JohnThomas Didymus     Feb 17, 2012 in World
Los Angeles - A privately-owned Cessna aircraft carrying over 20 pounds (10 kgs) of marijuana, on Thursday, strayed into the restricted airspace of President Obama's helicopter, Marine One. The Air Force hurriedly scrambled up two F-16 fighters to intercept the plane.
According to Huffington Post, the police discovered that the general aviation plane, a Cessna 182, was part of a marijuana smuggling operation after it was forced to land at Long Beach Airport.
The Secret Service said that though the plane was never a threat to the president, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) scrambled two F-16 fighters from March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California, to intercept the Cessna plane over Los Angeles at about 11:30 a.m. PST.
Herald Sun reports NORAD said in a statement: "Two F-16 fighters scrambled out of March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California, to respond to a temporary flight restriction violation by a Cessna 182 aircraft over Los Angeles. After intercepting the aircraft, the F-16s followed it until it landed without incident at approximately 12:30pm MST, where the plane was met by local law enforcement."
According to Los Angeles Times, U.S. Secret Service agency spokesman Brian Leary, said: “A civilian aircraft entered the restricted airspace in violation of the temporary flight restrictions imposed by the FAA. The aircraft was diverted to Long Beach Airport, and the airspace restriction violations do not appear to be of protective interest.”
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Virginia Kice, said the Homeland Security Investigations unit questioned the pilot and later turned him over to Long Beach police. The man remains in police custody and will face local prosecution.
NORAD spokesman Michael Kucharek declined to say how close the Cessna came to Marine One, the helicopter carrying the president to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for a scheduled flight to San Francisco.
The Federal Aviation Administration had notified pilots that an eight-mile radius around Los Angeles International Airport was off-limits to air traffic on Thursday, but according to spokesman Brie Sachse, the Cessna pilot violated the radius.
The Secret Service did not release the particulars of the plane involved saying it was not the practice to release the identity of planes involved in security breaches.
The Herald Sun reports that President Obama had attended a fundraising concert featuring Foo Fighters in Los Angeles. The flight to San Francisco was delayed by the appearance of the Cessna in the president's airspace, but the president finally took off on Air Force One at 11:40 a.m. PST and arrived in San Francisco at 12:40 p.m. PST where he attended three fundraisers.
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