UPDATE: About the federal helicopter circling West Seattle and White Center

11:16 AM: We’ve gotten a few questions about a helicopter heard over White Center and West Seattle this past hour or so. The screengrab above is from Flightradar24, which identifies it as a US Customs and Border Patrol helicopter and shows the many loops it’s taken. High up – 6,000 feet – so you might not have seen it. The tracker shows its flight starting in Tacoma. As for why it’s circling, we’re looking into it.

11:58 AM: So far, we’ve talked to a variety of people (haven’t heard back from CBP yet, though) and no additional information. The Tacoma Narrows Airport, from which the tracker showed the flight originating, told us the helicopter likely just stopped there to refuel, as there’s nothing of this type based there. A check of our archives, reminds us of a similar situation in January 2019 – a Customs helicopter circling south West Seattle – here’s what we wrote then.

12:37 PM: Still no further info (we’ll update here if and when any details turn up), but the helicopter’s left this area and is back over Pierce County.

1:36 PM: As noted in comments, federal Homeland Security officers are at Westwood Village. They wouldn’t comment to us on what they’re there for, but they said the helicopter wasn’t related.

57 Replies to "UPDATE: About the federal helicopter circling West Seattle and White Center"

  • KS June 22, 2023 (11:41 am)

    Is it because of the Orcas seen in the sound? 

    • WSB June 22, 2023 (11:56 am)

      Not that this federal service would be involved anyway, but no, the circling has been over land.

      • Curious June 22, 2023 (12:55 pm)

        Is it related to all the police and arrests at target?

        • WSB June 22, 2023 (1:12 pm)

          Someone just mentioned that to us. Looking into that too – police are at Westwood quite frequently, though.

          • Mickey June 23, 2023 (10:22 pm)

            I saw it fly by the space needle on Wednesday. All blacked out

          • Anonymous 1 June 24, 2023 (7:04 am)

            No you didn’t. There is no way a blacked out helicopter would go unnoticed in the middle of the city. Prove it. What time did this happen? What was it’s flight path. Why would they have their transponder on in this incident but not the one your claiming? Give us more than a vague attempt for attention. 

          • WS2974 June 24, 2023 (4:54 pm)

            There was a military looking helicopter flying near the Space Needle on Wednesday. Would have been between 2pm when I got to work and probably 6pm. It flew in from the west and continued on to the east on the north side of the Space Needle. Idk why you think it’s such a big deal that this person is reporting seeing something. I see them all the time from my office window just a few blocks east of the Space Needle.

          • Melissa June 25, 2023 (8:37 am)

            U see them all the time n never questioned why? I would think that’s very important to see them all the time, obviously something is happening

          • WhoaNelly! June 25, 2023 (1:40 am)

            Holy moly calm down! Seems to me you’re the only one making a huge deal over a comment that really wasn’t that serious. Holy hell I wouldn’t want to be around you if something serious was said you’d probably explode! Lol 🤣 just kidding. but seriously thought, why so serious? 

          • Anonymous 5 June 25, 2023 (6:08 am)

            No, their right o saw it as well. Twice 

          • Barbara June 25, 2023 (6:34 pm)

            It was about 1245 yesterday I was walking down Jackson to Jade Garden, federal green helicopter went over us toward hospital hill.

    • Tom June 24, 2023 (8:35 am)

      Hahahaha this was definitely DHS trying to get some whale watching in 😆

      • Carol June 25, 2023 (10:56 am)

        Ha ! ! !

    • E.T. June 24, 2023 (8:54 am)

      They chasing after E.T. 

      • Carol June 25, 2023 (10:57 am)

        Hee, hee ! ! !

  • Seattlite June 22, 2023 (1:13 pm)

    Behind the Chase Bank at Westwood Village, HSI and many agents were there with handcuffed several individuals.

    • WSB June 22, 2023 (1:35 pm)

      Yeah, we just went over for a look. They wouldn’t comment on what they’re doing – referred us to a PIO – but they said the helicopter wasn’t related.

      • Seattlite June 22, 2023 (4:23 pm)

        I was at the Chase’s drive through just before this happened.  There were no cars parked behind Chase which is unusual.  As I was leaving the drive through, one lone, older car with a driver and passenger slowly drove by and backed into a parking spot.  My antenna went up only because they were staring at me.  Then I drove to the Westwood post office and mailed a couple of letters.  I headed back to Target going out of the mall and re-entering on the south entrance next to Chase, turned left to park behind Chase and check that those two guys were gone. This took all of five minutes or less.  As I turned right to park behind Chase that is when I saw all of the HSI, agents.  They signaled for me to turn around.  I parked and walked in front of the Chase bank and saw several handcuffed individuals.  The suspicious car was still there and the occupants were outside of it.  I could not tell if they were handcuffed from my vantage point.  The handcuffed individuals included males and females.

    • Melinda June 24, 2023 (8:41 am)

      Hopefully busting these POS scumbags who are manufacturing and selling “Percocets” that contain fentanyl, it’s bad enough to sell drugs but putting fentanyl in a pill that looks like a Percocet is beyond disgusting. Last year HSI busted a couple in a suburban neighborhood in Marysville who were manufacturing pills that contained fentanyl.

      • Meagan June 24, 2023 (4:18 pm)

        They continue to do fentanyl busts everywhere but supply and demand wins. Maybe people should stop doing “blues”  fentanyl. 

      • Anon June 24, 2023 (9:52 pm)

        It’s the DHS, they don’t do much drug related things. That’s more for the DEA and ATF. If the DHS is involved with somethin, there is a good chance of a national security risk. The DHS protects critical infrastructure, leaders, etc. They also do border security and port of entry security. I have a feeling there was a tip-off about somethin, and they were investigating. 

      • Mmmmkay June 25, 2023 (1:42 am)

        Melinda I suggest that if you want that problem to stop we need to start voting better and close our borders because that’s why the fentanyl is running rampant in our country. busting some low-level dealers in Marysville isn’t going to solve the problem unfortunately. 

  • J June 22, 2023 (2:44 pm)

    Interesting – When I lived on the east hill in Renton  Every month for nearly 6 months a KCS chopper would fly round and round  for an hour in the middle of the night at maybe 500 feet, leave for 20 min return and repeat. They told me they were assisting in a drug surveillance  action.  They were so low my windows shook.At the time my work day started a 6:00 am – Is this, in reality, practice or are they actually doing something useful, love to know the story.

    • EmmaVee June 22, 2023 (4:21 pm)

      That seems more like persistent surveillance, maybe intercepting cell data? I’m curious as well.

    • High Point June 22, 2023 (6:53 pm)

      Sounds like the opening scene of Blue Thunder. Hopefully not the reason!

    • Mike June 22, 2023 (7:26 pm)

      They’re tracking people who do very bad things that you probably don’t want to see in your daily life.

      • WTF June 23, 2023 (2:07 pm)

        What Mike said.

    • Anonymous June 24, 2023 (12:30 pm)

      Although weed is mostly legal in Washington.  They still do infer-red surveys looking for illegal grow operations.  These are usually done at night for better contrast. Don’t know what to say about Coast Guard tho.

  • Lola June 22, 2023 (3:12 pm)

    Not sure if it is related but the Burien Blog said that a helicopter was helping looking for a Diver who had not surfaced. 

    • WSB June 22, 2023 (4:06 pm)

      That was Guardian One, different helicopter, different agency, but thanks.

      • Jonster June 26, 2023 (10:46 am)

        Concrete facts family 🙏

  • Paul Hage June 22, 2023 (8:58 pm)

    Sitting at Chupacabra a little after 3PM – looking north – two planes low over the water too far to identify.  Then 10 minutes later – two big gray planes entered stage right and banked sharply from east to west over the water.  Wonder why?

  • Russell June 22, 2023 (9:32 pm)

    The Auburn airport is the FAA helo center for Western Washington, there are many military and federal agency flights, low over Auburn all the time, but never predictable. 

  • Guy D johnson June 23, 2023 (4:10 am)

    June 20th a military  hellacopter was flying patterns over South West Cowlitz County. There were two

  • Used to be followed June 23, 2023 (5:57 am)

    The feds are constantly doing this stuff, and then on top of it if you look in the middle of the night you’ll notice that they fly cessna’s and stuff coming out of union gap Washington where they have a DEA office. The planes aren’t registered in their name, and they have stingray devices that hook up to people’s cell phones and they download the text messages and listen to the calls. They create a parallel investigation using that illegally gained information to create a real investigation to catch people doing things using the info they got so that they don’t have to tell the court how they initially got the initial information. It’s shady AF. You’re going to see a major bust happen soon somewhere most likely.

    • Rhonda June 23, 2023 (1:38 pm)

      Well, you’re not a federal agent and you don’t really know what they’re doing, but that’s a cool story.

      • Federal Agent June 23, 2023 (2:32 pm)

        No he’s pretty much spot on. 

        • Rhonda June 23, 2023 (4:05 pm)

          There’s enough tin foil at local supermarkets for hats for both of you.

        • Scarlett June 23, 2023 (4:27 pm)

          Correct.  They’ve been using this spook stuff for some time to surveil protests, including the use of what is called a “Dirtbox.”   But hey, land of the free home of the brave…or something like that. 

    • Carolyn June 23, 2023 (2:28 pm)

      Yeah… That is a pretty interesting story. I’m not saying I don’t believe you, and I certainly wouldn’t put it past them. But I would be interested to learn more about the evidence you’re basing your claims on.

    • Jo Ellis June 23, 2023 (9:39 pm)

      I don’t doubt any of that story. Anything is possible, with this FBI

  • Grendle81 June 23, 2023 (10:40 am)

    Ohhh… get a life you tin-foil hat not jobs. It’s obvious what they’re doing, they’re looking for D.B. Cooper. 

  • Scarlett June 23, 2023 (3:12 pm)

    In the the 50’s and 60’s,  the F.B.I conducted the largest covert and illegal operation in American history – against fellow Americans.   It was called “Cointelpro” and was brought to light by a break-in at FBI headquarters and then by the Senate Church hearings.  I’m sure millions of Americans back then would have had the same scoffing response to accusations that the feds were doing something illegal.  Some people never learn. 

  • Dan Zee June 23, 2023 (4:17 pm)

    News and blogs about Federal operations is counter productive to public safety.  Have you thought about creating a blog that has west Seattle’s citizens in mind?

    • WSB June 23, 2023 (4:33 pm)

      A helicopter audible and visible for two hours, and showing on flight trackers, plus federal officers in marked vests, are hardly secret, if that’s what you’re suggesting. Our job as journalists is to get the answers to questions, ours and others’. About these, there were many. We don’t have the full answers but at least were able to provide nominal info. – TR

      • RITA S WALTERS June 23, 2023 (10:25 pm)

        Thank you for all that you do for us! I appreciate you.

    • Rhonda June 23, 2023 (4:43 pm)

      By the time anyone noticed the helicopter and arrests at Westwood Village, the operation was already over. The WSB isn’t giving away any national security secrets.

  • Bill Guenther June 23, 2023 (6:22 pm)

    Speculation speculation show me factual and actual information or proof.

  • David June 23, 2023 (6:30 pm)

    We live In a world we’re bad people have the same equipment as the good guys… I’m a conservative republican, and have issues with the lose of my privacy at times. However, sometimes the feds have to be as smart or smarter then the bad guys, and use intercepting programs to help build a case against them… it’s just the world we live in now. 

    • RITA S WALTERS June 23, 2023 (10:32 pm)

      I’m a Democrat and I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with you. And, there’s not much we can do about it. Besides, I think they would be pretty bored prying into my business. As long as we’re following the law, we shouldn’t have a problem. It’s when they misuse it or use it inequitably that we have a problem. Still don’t know what can be done about it.Having said all of that, I’m sure glad we have the WSB!

      • Scarlett June 24, 2023 (3:36 pm)

        “I’m a good guy so I have nothing to worry about.” 

        Famous last words of many societies.  I wonder if Democrats would be so unconcerned about recent revelations – such as the NSA scooping up private information of ordinary citizens – if the tables were turned and Trump were still president.  A rhetorical question, of course. 

  • Sunny Jim June 24, 2023 (6:18 am)

    Homeland security was at the Mill Creek Town Center the same day as this was going on.  Was wondering what they were up to in conjunction with police.

  • ET June 24, 2023 (8:51 am)

    You all are wrong. They were chasing after E.T.

  • Kimberly Valadez June 24, 2023 (1:57 pm)

    There’s been a HUGE effort to crack down on fentanyl. Big press conference done yesterday by DHS. They’ve been making arrests, might be related.idk

  • Tina June 25, 2023 (10:52 am)

    No speculation here, just curious but their loop pattern looks like they kept hugging the harbor. Its possible CBP was tracking a ship or shipment at the Port. 

  • Ian moone June 25, 2023 (12:47 pm)

    I see this black hawk flying all over, seriously it’s been up by Mt Eleanor alot, I swear it landed up there.  They fly so damn low, if I wasn’t so conceited😁 I said they were flying low to take a look at me😂

Sorry, comment time is over.