“The moment drones started becoming household items, CBP should have anticipated their use for criminal enterprise. Instead, and in typical CBP fashion, it waited until an issue became a crisis before it chose to act. But like always, we’re already behind the eight ball and we’re left with trying to play catch-up.”
Brandon Judd is a Border Patrol agent and president of the National Border Patrol Council. He is upset at what he sees as a lack of action by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the government in general. He and many others believe that drones are a serious security risk and are disappointed over the country’s slow reaction to the problem.
Over a period of four days in November, 13 drones were spotted and suspected of carrying drugs across the border from Mexico. These drones were seen in just one area, the border between San Diego and Tijuana, a 5.5-mile stretch. If that many drones were seen in that small of an area, it hints at a much larger problem. Judd says the U.S. is way behind;
“We’re seeing an uptick. We flat-out just don’t have the technology to detect these. The number is just astronomical.”
Security experts say there is no way to overstate the potential problems with drones. ISIS has taken advantage of the technology to deliver explosive devices. There are fears that tactic could be used in the U.S.
Last year a Mexican cartel truck was captured. Officials found both drones and potato bombs, a crude explosive packed with shrapnel.
Other uses could be tracking patrol agents so drug shipments can be moved around them. Cartels could even use drones as a shield, making it too dangerous for air support in Border Patrol operations.
Christopher J. Harris, an agent and secretary of Local 1613 of the National Border Patrol Council supports the idea that the government has been slow to respond;
“We’re hoping that D.C. gets off the dime or starts getting ahead of the curve instead of being behind the curve and gives us the tools to keep the country safe. When you have that number going across and you really can’t do anything about it, that’s deeply frustrating.”
In August, an agent followed a drone and found the American man waiting to pick it up. It was carrying 13 pounds of meth, worth about $46,000. They also captured the drone which they determined sells for about $5,000, can fly 40 mph, and is designed to carry the 13-pound loads.
While agents cannot currently shoot down drones, some lawmakers are taking steps to change that. The Defense Department is the only branch of government who can engage drones and Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) us trying to get that changed.
A recent version of the bill Hartzler is proposing would allow agencies such as Border Patrol to track and disrupt drones. They would have the authority to seize control of them using technology and even shoot the machines down if they are deemed threats.
The U.S. is sadly behind the times here. Mexico is already employing this technology and a wall isn’t even in place. Once it is, drones will become even more useful to the drug cartels. It is vital our agencies are capable of combating that.
Source: The Washington Times