Emergency Landing Leads to Drug Arrests

A Fullerton man and a Mexican national were arrested in Newbury Park after their aircraft loaded with 500 pounds of marijuana made an emergency landing, authorities said.

Ventura County Sheriff's Department investigators, aided by federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents and Customs officials, seized the marijuana, valued at $750,000, and two grams of heroin valued at $700, according to Sgt. Craig Husband of the Sheriff's Department.

Christopher Shelby, 34, of Fullerton and Mario Fernandez, 38, of Sonora, Mexico, were being held without bail in the Ventura County jail pending arraignment by a federal magistrate, Husband said.

The two were flying over Newbury Park about 11 p.m. Saturday when the single-engine Cessna developed engine trouble, Husband said, and made an emergency landing in an open field on Potrero Road.

Husband said the two men gave conflicting reports to deputies about why they made the landing. The deputies became suspicious when they noticed "crudely packaged boxes" in the aircraft, Husband said.

A check on the aircraft determined that it had been reported stolen in Torrance, Husband said. Sheriff's narcotics investigators then obtained a search warrant.

Shelby was arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of heroin. Fernandez was arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

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