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Ultralight aircraft outmaneuver Border Patrol

Posted on
June 28, 2013

Border agents struggle to stop ultralight aircraft used by drug  smugglers, even when they can detect and track them, Border Patrol Chief Michael  Fisher said during a House hearing June 27.

Ultralight aircraft have become an emerging threat because they can overcome  border fences and because they can take off and land almost anywhere, Fisher  said.

“In many cases, the ultralight, when it makes entry into the United States,  does not land. It’ll simply just kick out its cargo,” which is usually  marijuana, Fisher told  the House Oversight subcommittee on national security. The low-flying aircraft  then returns to Mexico while traffickers on the ground in the United States  retrieve the drugs.

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 “The endgame, if you will, has not been established in terms of what we can  do to that particular ultralight,” Fisher said.

For ultralights that never land in the United States, it’s unclear what the  Border Patrol can do to them while they’re airborne. Fisher said the agency is  looking at how to adjust its policies to address ultralights, while still acting  with “compassion within the Constitution.”

Despite the difficulty of apprehending them, the Border Patrol has worked to  improve its ability to detect them, experimenting with ground-based radar,  Fisher said, and tweaking it so it can identify the ultralights.

The agency has also worked with the Science and Technology Directorate within  the Homeland Security Department on ways to detect the initial entry of  ultralights into the country.

About Doc

Spreading the word about the dangers of methamphetamine.

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