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Feds force small plane to land in Texas

Four suspected illegal immigrants from China who were aboard a small plane forced to land in Texas had no international terror ties, officials said Tuesday.
CESSNA
A plane that was forced to land by federal agents Monday night is secured at Stinson Airport in San Antonio, early on Tuesday. Eric Gay / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Four suspected illegal immigrants from China who were detained after their small plane landed in Texas had no connection to international terrorism, officials said Tuesday.

The pilot of the intercepted plane was a Mexican citizen, and the four Chinese passengers were trying to get into the United States to find work.

“We don’t believe these Chinese we have apprehended pose any type of national security threat,” said Alonzo Pena, special agent in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in San Antonio.

Federal agents tracked the plane’s 125-mile flight from Eagle Pass, Texas, and waited for it to land Monday evening at Stinson Municipal Airport, a few miles south of San Antonio.

As a precaution, authorities also launched an aircraft to intercept the Cessna if it did not land as scheduled. Initial reports stated that authorities forced the Cessna to land, but Pena said that was unnecessary.

The four passengers — two men and two women — carried Chinese passports, and officials said they would likely be deported. The pilot was expected to be charged with smuggling illegal immigrants, Pena said.

Authorities learned of the plane carrying the immigrants while tracking another aircraft that was loaded with marijuana.