by WorldTribune Staff, April 15, 2022
Mexican cartels are making use of a fleet of drones to keep track of U.S. Border Patrol activity and identify gaps in border coverage to facilitate their human smuggling and drug trafficking, a government watchdog group reported.
The cartels are using the intelligence gained from the drone flights to overwhelm certain areas of the border to “create a diversion for moving sensitive or high value loads through alternate border locations,” Judicial Watch noted in its April 12 Corruption Chronicles report.
The cartels have conducted more than 9,000 drone flights into U.S. airspace in the last year to surveil American law enforcement and security operations, a senior Homeland Security official told Judicial Watch, which learned of the drone incursions during a recent visit to the southern border.
Mexican cartels are using the drones to observe federal, state, county, and city agencies near the U.S.-Mexico border, including the U.S. Border Patrol, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas National Guard, county sheriffs and local police, the report said.
The Border Patrol, which operates under Customs and Border Protection (CBP), has captured about a dozen of the drones and accessed their guidance and memory systems to gain intelligence information, a high-level official at the agency told Judicial Watch.
Brandon Judd, the president of the union representing the nation’s 20,000 Border Patrol agents, told Judicial Watch the drones are also used to smuggle small amounts of drugs into the U.S. “They are dropping fentanyl,” Judd said. “They fly into certain locations, drop them to the ground and fentanyl is taken off of them and they take back off into Mexico.” The drones are not military grade, Judd confirmed, but rather “run of the mill” that can be purchased anywhere.
Last year, Mexico’s largest newspaper reported that some of the country’s most notorious cartels, including Jalisco Nueva Generación, used drones with explosives to attack police in the western part of the country.