Drug smugglers are using drones on America's southern border, and the response from the Border Patrol isn't very illuminating.
A recent incident on the Mexican side of the United States' southern border has shed new light on how drones are being used by both sides in the War on Drugs. Late last month a drone overloaded with meth crash-landed in a supermarket parking lot in Tijuana, Mexico, less than half a mile from the border, and was recovered by Mexican law-enforcement officials. The drone's existence provides a rare glimpse of the constantly evolving tactics of transnational smugglers, and it also raises questions about the U.S. federal government's surveillance of the border. The U.S. law-enforcement agencies in charge of policing the border claim to be ready for any threat posed by drones.
So obviously some drugs are being smuggled across the border via drones, but Customs and Border Patrol says:
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, on the other hand, is downplaying concerns about the potential for growing use of unmanned aircraft at the border. "To date, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not intercepted any drones smuggling narcotics across the borders into the United States," CBP spokesman Carlos Lazo said in a statement. "In collaboration with our federal, state, local and international law enforcement partners, CBP remains vigilant against emerging trends and ever-changing tactics employed by transnational criminal organizations behind illegal attempts to smuggle narcotics into the U.S."
We're supposed to be relieved that they haven't intercepted any drug smuggling drones? Whatever the CBP told Ryan Lovelace, their drone strategy isn't a counter-drone strategy in any sense.
Outwardly, the Border Patrol appears to be ready for drone-powered drug smugglers. Border Patrol agents would not comment on the counter-measures the agency might employ to combat drones that are threatening its agents or being used in the commission of crimes. But the Border Patrol has an arsenal of drones of its own. The agency's Unmanned Aircraft System has a fleet of nine Predator B drones that can fly for 20 hours straight and travel at speeds up to 276 miles per hour to help secure the nation's border. Predator B drones, which are also used by the military, are much more sophisticated and powerful than the drone that crashed in Mexico. The drug-smuggling drone was much smaller, slower, and less durable than the top-dollar equipment paid for by American taxpayers.
Possessing your own drones doesn't help you defeat enemy drones in any way, unless you've got air-to-air combat drones of some sort. Definitely not Predators, which are for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. So the fact that CPB's drones are more expensive and more capable than the smuggler drones is really not relevant to this matter.
If the White House can't be protected from hobbyist drones then the borders definitely cannot be protected from determined adversaries with drones.