Eddy County May Sell Plane

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) - Eddy County Sheriff Ernie Mendoza says selling the department's plane is the best way to go after the recent retirement of its only pilot.

Mendoza says talks are in progress to sell the plane, used largely to find drug smugglers.  He says his agency would negotiate an agreement to use the aircraft when needed.

The sheriff says the airplane is used by other agencies through memorandums of understanding, and Eddy County would have a similar agreement.  He says his office has to have a certified officer who is licensed to fly, but no longer has such a person.

Mendoza says upkeep of the plane costs an estimated $12,000 a year, plus fuel.  The aircraft was obtained through a drug seizure in the early 1990s.