A suspected drug smuggler being chased by federal agents set his plane on autopilot and bailed out, letting the pilotless plane fly on for 180 miles before it crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, officials said.

Ronald Cox, 43, of Miami was arrested Monday and authorities recovered 19 bales of marijuana from the wreckage, said U.S. Customs Service spokesman Michael Sheehan.The plane was first picked up by radar about 140 miles southwest of Key West, flying very low over the water toward Florida. A Customs jet and a Coast Guard Falcon jet followed it for two hours, Sheehan said.