A small drone used by Mexican federal police was flying in its country's airspace before malfunctioning, forcing controllers to crash it across the Texas border in El Paso, a Mexican government official told The Associated Press Friday.
The unmanned aircraft was on routine patrol before it crashed Tuesday night in an El Paso yard, said the Mexican government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue.
No one was injured when the drone landed behind a house in a former agricultural area near the border, authorities said. The neighborhood is separated from Mexico by the Rio Grande, floodlights, the 15- to 18-foot tall border fence, a chain-link fence, a line of poles with surveillance cameras and a highway, the El Paso Times reported.
Border Patrol agent Ramiro Cordero said that after someone found the drone, authorities removed it so they could examine it, and later returned it to Mexican officials at one of the international bridges.
"It was small enough to carry it," Cordero told the AP on Friday.
The drone was a mini orbiter unmanned aerial vehicle made by Aeronautics Defense Systems, said Keith Holloway, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board.
The aircraft weighs about 15 to 44 pounds and has a wingspan of 7 feet to 12 feet depending on the model, according to the company's website. The mini drone can fly up to 80 mph and can stay in the air up to seven hours.
Holloway said that none of NTSB's investigators went to the scene but that the agency has obtained information and will investigate what caused the crash.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection referred inquiries about the incident to the NTSB or Mexico's government.
Vincent Perez, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, said Friday that the congressman's office was awaiting more information about the incident. He said Reyes was notified Thursday after asking the Department of Homeland Security about media reports of the drone. Reyes, a former chief of the Border Patrol's El Paso sector, chairs the House Select Committee on Intelligence.