Flying drugs into California from Mexico

Susan Ferrechio:
In one California border town, at least four drug-laden, ultralight airplanes from Mexico land each night on U.S. soil, dropping off hundreds of pounds of narcotics then flying back to Mexico, all the while eluding a $100 million detection system funded by American taxpayers.

The U.S. Border Patrol’s inability to find and catch these planes, operated by the Mexican drug cartels and sometimes piloted by armed dealers, is among the emerging border security threats a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing will tackle on Thursday.

The panel wants to highlight growing border security problems as Congress debates immigration reform legislation that includes provisions aimed at bolstering border security, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told the Washington Examiner.

Chaffetz, who will oversee the hearing as chairman of the panel’s subcommittee on national security, says he has doubts that pouring more money into the border will adequately improve security if the billions of dollars already spent are not making much of a difference.

“These planes take off in Mexico with the drugs, go across the border and drop them off and then the ultralight lands back in Mexico. And we are fairly inept at dealing with them,” he told The Examiner.

Chaffetz learned about the deluge of the home-built drug planes crossing the into the United States during a visit earlier this year to border areas in Arizona and Mexico.

Border patrol agents told him that despite the hefty price tag paid for the sensors, they are not helping agents stop the ultralights. The planes land in border towns all along the Mexican border, including El Centro, California, where multiple air drops happen every night.

Success rates at detecting and capturing the planes, one border agent reported, “are very low.”
I think it is going to take surveillance blimps like those used in Afghanistan to detect these incursions.  It will also take some semblance of law enforcement in Mexico to deal with the bases for these planes.

Rather than spend money on a fence or more border agents, I would invest in more blims that keep constant vigilance that can detect people and objects trying to cross the border.  We could then use border agent strike forces to catch them.  But we need the persistence of the blimp surveillance to act as a force multiplier.


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