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December 14, 2000

Federal charges face 3 nabbed for drug drop


Staff Writers

ALGER -- Three men are being held on federal drug charges resulting from a cell phone call placed by a hiker who saw a small plane drop several packages on Blanchard Mountain Wednesday.

"It's a large amount of marijuana to be taken in our county," said Sgt. Bonnie Bowers of the Skagit County Sheriff's Office.

The hiker called 911 after watching the packages drop about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday on state-owned land.

Sheriff's deputies who responded to the call detained three men who are being held in the local jail until they can be transported to a federal facility in Seattle.

The three men are in their 20s and were driving two newer model Jeep Cherokees. Two are from Whatcom County and one is from British Columbia.

Deputy Bart Moody, who is trained to track human footprints, found several large bags of marijuana by following footprints in the snow. One of the bags had broken open on impact and spilled, deputies said.

The men detained had two-way radios, cell phones and global positioning systems.

"That's the trend right now," Deputy George Smith said. "They fly over the border and drop it. They use walkie-talkie type radios, cell phones and GPS."

The case is now being investigated by the U.S. Customs Office.