Cartels are not only using drones to smuggle drugs across the U.S. border, they are now using drones to smuggle humans across the border. Cartels and human smugglers are using drones to spy on U.S. border patrol agents and guide people across the border. Cartels can monitor the migrant flow in real-time with drones. Recent reports from border patrol agents highlight the risks and illegal activity happening at our borders.
Drone-Assisted Illegal Entry at U.S. Border
On June 9, 2019, border patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley sector recovered a drone used by the cartel. Agents found the crashed drone in La Grulla, Texas near the river. A Texas agent anonymously reported that the lights on the drone were covered with electrical tape, which would make it difficult to see at night. The agent also revealed the area where agents found the drone has seen an influx of illicit trafficking.
In April 2019, a U.S. Border Patrol agent working the El Paso sector was monitoring the border at night utilizing an infrared camera when he observed a small airborne object traveling northbound across the U.S. International boundary. The object traveled approximately 100 yards over U.S. soil and then return to Mexico, officials said.
The object repeated this pattern three times. Approximately two minutes after the object returned back to Mexico for the third time, a group of ten undocumented immigrants entered the U.S. illegally in the same area in which the object had been hovering.
Border Patrol agents immediately took the group of undocumented immigrants into custody. "This is the first known time in recent history that a drone has been utilized as a 'look-out' in order to aid in illegal entries in the El Paso Sector," said the Border Patrol in a news release.
As of March 31, 2019, the El Paso sector had a little more than 71,000 apprehensions, the Border Patrol said. During the same time frame the previous fiscal year, the sector had just under 11,000 apprehensions.
Criminal organizations using drones as surveillance platform
The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI has called unmanned aerial systems (UAS) one of the top national security threats to the United States.
Criminals in the U.S. have been using drones to monitor and surveil law enforcement such as the FBI. Authorities in Spain arrested a drug gang using drones to spy on authorities. Cartels using drones to smuggle illicit drugs and people across the border are just more examples of drones being used to threaten our National Security. Are we prepared for this threat?
Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection Flickr (Ozzy Trevino)