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article imagePredator drone to patrol Texas-Mexico border beginning Wednesday

By Lynn Herrmann     Aug 31, 2010 in Crime
A new predator drone will begin flying over the Texas-Mexico border beginning on Wednesday, “providing critical aerial assistance to personnel on the ground,” the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Monday.
The Department of Homeland Security has added a new predator drone to its surveillance capabilities along the country’s southwest border, with flights from the new drone set to begin September 1, according to a department statement released on Monday.
Deployment of this newest addition to the Predator Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) fleet will be stationed out of Naval Air Station, in Corpus Christi, Texas.
DHS labels the latest drone addition a part of its “historic approach” to border-wide security measures. Part of the Southwest Border Initiative launched in March 2009, DHS also describes efforts associated with this measure as using an “unprecedented amount of resources,” according to the statement.
In a conference call on Monday, Secretary of Homeland Security’s Janet Napolitano said the beginning of drone flights out of Corpus Christi, along with two new drones set to begin operating next year, will provide Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with a drone fleet of six to patrol the country’s southwest border, the San Antonio Express News reports.
Prior to Monday’s department announcement, three drones were being used along the border from El Centro, Calif. to the Big Bend region of West Texas.
In addition, the deployment of 250 National Guard troops to Texas will provide support to Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as they recruit and train additional agents and officers for border duties.
US Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex), who chairs the US House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism, issued a prepared statement saying: ““Today marks a critical next step in securing the Texas-Mexico border. By positioning this aircraft in Texas, CBP can further combat illegal activity along our southern border.”
Currently, the three drones operated by CBP are based out of Sierra Vista, Arizona.
Additionally, DHS funds state and local law enforcement agencies through a grant program called Operation Stonegarden, designed to combat border-related crime.
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