Home News 3 busted in upstate NY drug-smuggling drone operation

3 busted in upstate NY drug-smuggling drone operation

Drug smugglers attempting to use drones to carry MDMA across the New York-Canada border were quickly busted by federal agents, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday.

A drone landed at a home in Youngstown on Sept. 21, 2022 carrying about 6.5 pounds of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, the Justice Department said.

But authorities were on the scene and busted all three conspirators, according to the feds. Only one of the smugglers, Yong Chen, 37, of New York City, was identified in court documents. He was charged with possession with intent to distribute, local NBC affiliate WGRZ reported.

Federal investigators said the scheme began in April 2022 when the group bought an upscale house in Youngstown, about 10 miles north of Niagara Falls, according to local CBS affiliate WIVB.

Beginning in May, the group tested a series of drone flights between Youngstown and Niagara-on-the-Lake, a small town on the Canadian side of the Niagara River on the shores of Lake Ontario.

But by the time the crew was ready for a drug-carrying flight, the feds were already onto the scheme. Agents witnessed the drone’s departure from Youngstown on Sept. 21 and tracked it to Niagara-on-the-Lake, according to the complaint. They then watched it return to the home carrying the MDMA.

The feds said agents burst into the home to find three men, two of whom took off running, WGRZ reported. The two fugitives were captured within an hour.

Inside the home, agents found several drones and controllers but no furniture other than mattresses on the floor, according to the complaint.

Data from the drone showed it had been on five cross-border flights, but investigators believe the earlier flights were only tests, reported WIVB.

The feds did not identify the other two suspects, though they said one was from California and the other pleaded guilty in February.

With News Wire Services


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here