Rep. Giffords' last bill targets form of drug smuggling

January 24, 2012

The last bill sponsored by Congressman Gabrielle Giffords will heard in the U-S House of Representatives this morning.  The measure toughens penalities for those caught smuggling drugs across the border in ultralight aircraft.  From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Paul Atkinson reports.

ultralight aircraft seized on US/Mexico border in Arizona Border Patrol agents caught this ultralight with 223 lbs of marijuana in Southern Arizona in 2008. (Photo courtesy of CBP)

Ultralights look like hang gliders with a small engine and large propeller.  The hard to detect aircraft were reportedly used more than 200 times last year to smuggle drugs across the U-S Mexico border.  But getting caught doesn’t carry the same punishment as using an airplane. 

Representative Giffords sponsored a bill more than two years ago that would stiffen penalties.  It passed the House almost unanimously, but was never heard in the Senate.

That changed last month when the senate passed a bill based on Gifford’s measure.   The Democrat teamed with Republican Jeff Flake to introduce The Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act of 2012 in the House.  

Giffords announced Monday she will retire at the end of the week to focus on her recovery from  last year’s shooting.  She’s hoping the last bill she introduced will finally be passed by both chambers of Congress and sent to the President for approval.

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