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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

Monday, June 25, 2018

Local Woman in Custody for Lasing Aircraft at McAllen Airport

McALLEN, Texas – A 46-year-old McAllen resident has been taken into custody for allegedly aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

Law enforcement took Ruth Ann Hopp into custody Friday. She made her initial appearance this morning, at which time she was ordered temporarily into custody pending a detention hearing set for today at 4:00 p.m.

The criminal complaint alleges Hopp is responsible for lasing numerous aircrafts that had attempted to land at McAllen International Airport.

The investigation began after numerous pilots had complained about similar incidents involving lasers.  

Lasers have a dangerous effect on pilots when the beams of light strike an aircraft. The light can temporarily blind them. A laser, when aimed at an aircraft, can create a visual distraction or cause discomfort or even damage to a pilot’s eyes.

The criminal complaint alleges the instances in which Hopp is charged occurred during the landing portion of different flights, when the pilots need to be most alert. This represents a danger to not only the pilots, but the passengers of the planes as well as the people on the ground.

If convicted, Hopp faces up to five years in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine. 

The FBI and Customs and Border Protection Air & Marine Branch conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Alejandra Andrade is prosecuting the case. 

A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Updated June 28, 2018