Cannabis in America

Surprise: 26 Pounds of Marijuana Crash Through Arizona Home

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During the early morning hours of September 8, Maya Donnelly was awaken by a crash that she believed was just thunder. Later that morning she looked in her garage and noticed pieces of broken wood and signs that Hulk, their large German Shepherd, had been making a mess. Donnelly went outside to get a closer look at things and to her surprise there was a mysterious package wrapped in black plastic. Donnelly stated:

I went out to investigate, and sure enough, I looked up to see the hole, and then my eyes trailed down and the big dog’s house was destroyed. It made a hole in that hard plastic doghouse and the bundle was inside…

Donnelly lives with her husband and three teenage daughters in Nogales, Arizona, near the U.S.-Mexico border. Because of the large amount of smuggling that occurs near the border area, she immediately assumed that the package was drugs and called the police. When the police arrived, they revealed that Donnelly was correct. The package contained 26 pounds of marijuana and was worth nearly $10,000.

Nogales Police Department officers searched their property and other nearby areas for additional bundles but nothing was found. The officers then took possession of the drugs.

Police are trying to determine if the bundle was transported by an aircraft or a pilotless drone. Authorities told Donnelly that an ultralight aircraft smuggling marijuana from Mexico had probably let part of its load go early by mistake. These aircrafts are one of the tools of the local drug smuggling trade. Nogales Police Chief Derek Arnson stated, “Someone definitely made a mistake, and who knows what the outcome of that mistake might be for them.”

In the United States, ultralight aircrafts are classified as “vehicles” and not aircrafts. They are not required to be registered nor is the pilot required to have a pilot license or certificate, thus making it easy to smuggle drugs. Arnson told Nogales International,

Ultralights, we’ve seen those on occasion. They’ll take a couple, two, three bundles. You can hear those kind of buzzing. They come at nighttime and they don’t land, they just drop and go back to Mexico.

Now, I’m sure some people may be surprised by the Donnellys’ integrity in calling the police and not keeping the bundle to make a profit.

Despite their friends joking to them that they could have kept the package and illegally sold the drugs, the family did not want to feel any guilt about the situation. “That’s what everybody says: ‘Why did you call 911?” Maya Donnelly stated. “But how can you have a clear conscience, right?”

The Donnellys do not feel any less safe after the incident and doubt that anyone will come looking for the drugs since the bundle is now in police custody. Arnson agreed, but placed patrols in the Donnelly’s neighborhood for now just to be safe. Although the family will have to pay an estimated amount of $500 in roof repairs and a new home for their dog, they are just happy that the package did not come through another part of their home and that no one was harmed.

Taelor Bentley
Taelor is a member of the Hampton University Class of 2017 and was a Law Street Media Fellow for the Summer of 2015. Contact Taelor at



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