Smugglers fly tiny, one-person planes across the border by night and drop their loads in remote pickup areas along the border. They’re difficult to detect, frustrating law enforcement agents.
Imperial County, Calif. and the border area near Tucson, Ariz. are major corridors for ultralight drug smuggling activity.
Data gleaned from the new detection system will be transmitted to the Air and Marine Operations Center in Riverside, Calif.
CBP first sought out ultralight detection technology as part of the Secure Border Initiative, a program created under the Bush Administration to bring high-tech solutions to the problem of illegal border crossings and drug trafficking.
The program was scrapped after an expensive system of radars, which planned to cover the entire U.S.-Mexico border, proved ineffective. At a conference of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International held in February, Mark Borkowski, Assistant Commissioner for CBP’s Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition, said the agency would be more cautious in the future when purchasing new technology.