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NORAD intercepts plane loaded with pot in Obama no-fly zone

Msnbc.com's Alex Witt reports.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET: President Barack Obama may have inadvertently won a skirmish in the war on drugs Thursday when a small plane that encroached on his airspace was intercepted and found to be hauling more than 20 pounds of marijuana, sources told NBC News.

About 2 p.m. ET, the single-engine Cessna 182 entered airspace that had been restricted as Obama was returning to Los Angeles International Airport aboard Marine One, the presidential helicopter, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said in a statement.


President Barack Obama was returning to the Los Angeles airport, where he arrived Wednesday aboard Air Force One.

The pilot never responded to repeated attempts to make contact by air traffic controllers, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Two F-16 fighter jets from March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County intercepted the plane and followed it as it made its way to a safe landing, where the pilot was met by local authorities, NORAD said.

NORAD would give no further details, citing operational security, but sources told NBC News Justice Department correspondent Pete Williams that the plane was escorted to Long Beach Airport. Authorities searched the plane and found about 22 pounds of marijuana on board, the sources said.

Jay Blackman, Scott Foster and Pete Williams of NBC News contributed to this report by M. Alex Johnson of msnbc.com. Follow M. Alex Johnson on Twitter and Facebook.

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