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F-16s intercept unauthorized small plane, later found to be carrying marijuana stash near Los Angeles

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FILE: An F-16 fighter jet, fully armed with air-to-air missiles under its wings, maneuvers above the northwest section of Washington D.C. (AP)

Two F-16 fighters intercepted an aircraft Thursday after a flight restriction violation near Los Angeles, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said in a statement.

The privately owned Cessna airplane entered the same airspace as Marine One, the helicopter that was ferrying President Obama, around noon. A law enforcement official says police discovered about 40 pounds of marijuana inside after it landed at Long Beach Airport.

The Secret Service says the president was never in any danger. There was no immediate word on arrests related to the drug discovery.

The two fighters, under the direction of the bi-national American and Canadian command, quickly responded to the violation. After intercepting the aircraft, the NORAD fighters followed it until it landed, and it was met by local law enforcement without incident.

NORAD works closely with homeland defense, security and law enforcement to prevent air attacks on North America by responding to unauthorized air activity.

In safeguarding the sovereign air space of the U.S. and Canada, the command may monitor, shadow, divert from flight path, direct to land and/or destroy potential threats, the statement said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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