Border Patrol Using Drones to Battle Marijuana Trade
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Predator B (photo: Customs and Border Protection)
U.S. border patrol agents are using drones, the same type in fact being used to fight the Afghanistan war, to locate illegal shipments of marijuana being smuggled across the Southwest border.
But based on the government’s own statistics, it remains to be seen if the expense of unmanned aircraft can be justified to halt the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) currently operates six Predator-B aircraft from two locations: Sierra Vista, Arizona, and Corpus Christi, Texas. These drones patrol the U.S.-Mexico border from eastern Southern California to Texas.
Manufactured by General Atomics, each Predator costs about $20 million to purchase.
Since CBP began using the pilotless planes, the agency has seized 46,600 pounds of marijuana. This total may seem large, but the fact is it only represents 0.003% of all marijuana that the agency has seized over the past six years, according to Tom Barry, author of the book, Border Wars.
For the record, CBP says that the Predator B is not a drone but a “remotely piloted aircraft.”
DHS Pumping Money into Drones for Domestic Surveillance, Hunting Immigrants and Seizing Pot (by Tom Barry, AlterNet)
CBP Receives Fourth Predator-B in Arizona (Customs and Border Protection)
Drones Now Being Used by Police and Sheriffs in U.S. (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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