SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The U.S. Border Patrol has discovered that human smugglers are using drones to surveil agents on patrol along the border between San Diego and Tijuana.
“It’s definitely become a trend here in the San Diego Sector,” said Agent Diana Ibarra. “We’ve detected where they’re just flying along on the south side of the border. We’ve also detected them when they fly north.”
Ibarra said the drones are being operated by smuggling organizations to spy on agents.
“They’re gathering intelligence, they’re doing counter-surveillance on our agents, they’re trying to see our work patterns, how many agents and what they’re doing,” said Ibarra. “They’re working to try and find any possible vulnerability and exploit those.”
Ibarra and the Border Patrol pointed to the recent discovery of videos that showed agents’ movements as they approached and arrested a group of migrants.
The investigation took agents to a stash house in National City, California, about 10 miles north of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, and discovered several video clips of the agents apprehending some of the migrants from the previous night.
According to the Border Patrol, the footage was captured by a drone used by a smuggling organization.
“This technology provides transnational criminal organizations with new capability that they are eager to exploit,” said Agent Aaron M. Heitke, San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent.
Ibarra says agents are going to be more proactive approach intercepting and confiscating drones they might see in the sky.
“We’re equipping our agents with tools necessary in order to detect these drones and to interdict them and take them custody of them,” she said.