Patrol: New Border Drones Serving as Deterrent

Patrol: New Border Drones Serving as Deterrent
Posted by CN Staff on December 09, 2004 at 12:16:44 PT
By Arthur H. Rotstein, Associated Press Writer
Source: Associated Press
Tucson, Ariz. -- The latest aerial drones to be tested on the U.S.-Mexico border have yet to be credited with assisting in any apprehensions or drug busts but they are serving as a deterrent, a Border Patrol spokeswoman says. The two Hunter unmanned drones are following the same flight patterns as the Hermes 450 drones tested in southern Arizona during the summer, said Andrea Zortman, spokeswoman for the Border Patrol's Tucson sector.
The Hermes aircraft were credited with aiding in more than 780 apprehensions, 11 drug detections, including one seizure of more than 500 pounds of marijuana, and assistance in several rescues. The Army's twin-engine Hunters, which are equipped with sophisticated cameras and radar, will be tested on Arizona-Mexico border at least through the end of the year to evaluate their effectiveness in detecting illegal immigrants and securing the border. No cutoff date has been announced. The Army has used Hunters in Bosnia and in Iraq, and the pair being tested in Arizona are on loan from the Defense Department. Army operations involving drone testing are headquartered at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. Michael Nicley, newly appointed chief of the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, said the drone's primary role is more about deterrence than interdiction. The Tucson sector, which includes all but the western 50 miles of the Arizona-Mexico border, has been the nation's busiest illegal entry point for several years. As part of a crackdown that began in the sector in March, the Department of Homeland Security said drones would be deployed to help in surveillance operations along heavily traveled immigrant and drug-trafficking areas. "The Department of Homeland Security has decided that it's a very promising technology," Nicley said. The drones are operated by Defense Department personnel at Fort Huachuca who work alongside Border Patrol agents. The agents interpret what cameras aboard the aircraft beam back and deploy agents on the ground as needed, said Zortman. The Hunter drones are costing slightly less than $2 million to operate and maintain during the trial run, Zortman said. Source: Associated Press (Wire)Author: Arthur H. Rotstein, Associated Press WriterPublished: Wednesday, December 8, 2004Copyright: 2004 The Associated Press Related Articles:Across U.S., a Security Scramble Alert Keeps Drug Shipments at a Crawl
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment