Mobile thermal cameras used to nab smugglers, migrants

Technology remains 'force multiplier' on border despite failure of Senate foreign aid and security bill

Seen on an infrared camera, U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants after they illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on October 18, 2016 in McAllen, Texas. Immigration and border security have become major issues in the American Presidential campaign.

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A high-tech mobile thermal camera system allowed border agents to apprehend five unauthorized migrants and three alleged smugglers in the dead of night in the Gila Bend area of Arizona last week.

Agents used the Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) system – which is increasingly being utilized by Department of Homeland Security agencies at the Mexican border – to track through desert brush and agricultural fields six migrants who had crossed the border illegally in the early hours of Tuesday.

Documents filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona show the roving patrol’s camera continued monitoring the migrants as a Kia Forte sedan came off an access road of Interstate 8 around 1:30 a.m., entered a neighborhood and proceeded through a back road in their direction.

The unauthorized migrants got into the Kia; the Border Patrol stopped the car before it got back on I-8. Records show eight people crowded inside the Kia, with a woman named Christina Duncan identifying herself as a U.S. citizen and the rest being citizens of Mexico. Of those, only driver Alvaro Leon Othon had papers to be in the country legally, records show.

Border agents interviewed the eight occupants separately and learned Duncan had hired Leon on behalf of a woman only identified as Briana, and that one of the migrants, Pablo Acevedo Bello, was a “foot guide” or smuggler that guided the migrants across the border, a criminal complaint alleges.

Duncan, Leon and Acevedo were taken into custody on charges of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens.

Border security technology figured prominently in the Senate’s failed $118 billion immigration and foreign aid package last month.

The bill specifically included more than $750 million for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, with more than $400 million dedicated to inspection technology, including autonomous surveillance towers and other cutting-edge systems such as FLIR. Some companies that provide this technology to CBP call it a “force multiplier” because agents don’t have to man every inch of the border.

Border Report

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