Our Border Protection At Work :bye:

Our Border Protection At Work :bye:

Deleted Member

Sep 10, 07 at 09:52pm
Bullet-proof helicopters play key U.S. border role

By Tim Gaynor

Mon Sep 10, 8:21 AM ET

TUCSON, Ariz (Reuters) - Pilot Rich Rouviere gazes through night vision goggles as he speeds the Black Hawk helicopter to where a high-tech drone far above has pinpointed 11 intruders from Mexico.

As he sets the aircraft down in a swirling tornado of dust and debris, two agents in military style fatigues and flak jackets jump out and swiftly round up all but two of them, illuminated by a laser from the drone. From alert to arrest, the operation has taken 17 minutes.

Welcome to a little known double act between spy planes and fast, military helicopters that is blazing a trail for the future of U.S. border security in a remote desert wilderness south of Tucson, Arizona.

The Predator B Unmanned Aerial System, or drone, has been at work in Arizona since 2005, scouring the borderlands for drug traffickers and illegal immigrants from Mexico using high-powered cameras tucked on to its belly.

Silent and cloaked in darkness as it wheels miles above the desert, the spotting system cues elite tactical teams in Black Hawk helicopters to race in and carry out arrests, often many miles from the nearest highway.

"The UAS says 'hey, this is what we see, we need you to come and grab it,"' said Rouviere, who alternates between flying Black Hawks and overseeing the Predator's flights from a military base in southern Arizona.


Missile-bearing versions of the Predator have been used by the CIA to hunt al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the role of its unarmed Customs and Border Protection counterparts in spotting illegal border crossers has been widely reported.

The use of Black Hawk helicopters, however, is less well known.

The helicopters, developed for the U.S. Army, are suited for the task, in which agents are frequently pelted with rocks and even shot at by smugglers.

"First of all ... (the Black Hawk) comes standard with armor plating ... so that's a great advantage to what we do. The second thing is that it's an extremely fast helicopter," said Rouviere, who like many in the team is ex-military.

Alerted by the drone, the helicopters can fly at speeds of up to 180 mph (260 kmh) to intercept illegal border crossers. Once at the scene, they drop off highly trained air interdiction agents, dubbed "back seaters," to make the arrests.

The Customs and Border Protection agents carry M-4 assault rifles and emergency first aid kits, and are trained both in SWAT team tactics and as paramedics. If the terrain is too rugged to land the helicopter, they simply drop in by rope, and are ready for whatever role awaits them.

"We can go instantly from a rescue, to bad guys that are running away, to helping an officer who is pinned down by gunfire," said back seater Todd Sager, a former paratrooper with the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne division.

"You have to be able to scale it up or scale it down in an instant," added Sager, who parachuted into Panama in the 1989 U.S. invasion, and served in the first Gulf war.


Last year border police nabbed some 1.1 million illegal immigrants and hundreds of tons of narcotics smuggled over the porous Mexico border, which is widely seen as a weak spot for U.S. homeland security.

Often operating without backup, the Black Hawk crews tackle the toughest traffickers, among them hyper-fit drug mules hefting 50 pound (23 kg) marijuana bales over the border on foot, or drug smugglers fleeing over the desert to Mexico on horseback.

At other times the crews are dispatched to chase down pickup trucks and SUVs speeding drugs over cactus-studded back trails, dropping off a two-man "spike team" with a pronged strip to deflate their tires.

"You're not like a regular police officer who has a vehicle to hide behind. Out there you just have a bush and they swerve to hit you," Sager said.

Throughout the operations, the Predator B's operators, based at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, remain in direct contact with the Black Hawk crews, often using their clear overview to direct the unfolding interdiction.

High-resolution infrared cameras on the drone also record the operation, sometimes from the moment smugglers cross over the border to their arrest, and provide prosecutors with often incontrovertible evidence to secure a conviction.

"Sometimes it never goes to court because the prosecutors say 'beat this,"' Rouviere said. "When you have that kind of evidence, you have no choice but to plead out ... It's a slam dunk."


U.S. Customs and Border Protection currently have two drones in Arizona. Plans are underway to expand the fleet to six by the end of 2008, extending patrols to the U.S. Gulf Coast and stretches of the northern frontier with Canada.

As the agency rolls out the program to locations in North Dakota and Florida, CBP Air and Marine trainers are drawing on the pioneering experience of the Predator and Black Hawk teams at work in southern Arizona.

"We are the first satellite ... We are going to be a template for how the other locations will do," Martin Vaughan, the director of CBP air operations in Tucson, told Reuters.

While he cautions that the wide open seascapes of the Gulf of Mexico and the pine-strewn wilderness of the Canadian border are very different operating environments to Arizona, he believes the intense, crash course in the heavily trafficked desert will prove invaluable.

"Spending a year in Tucson is like dog years -- it's like seven years anywhere else," he said of the corridor where border police arrested 392,313 people last year.


Sep 11, 07 at 10:15am
This would all be interesting if there was any mention of machine guns being mounted on the preditors, hehe

Deleted Member

Sep 11, 07 at 01:28pm
Tanks along the border would be a great deterent for the river od illegals.


Deleted Member

Sep 12, 07 at 03:48pm
did did a spat down on the boarder of az and its not so bad there,alot of barron wastland for them to come across---tx is where the real problem is at,i think we caught about 167 people in about a month and a half8)

Deleted Member

Sep 12, 07 at 03:54pm
put them in the chopper go up a couple of hundred feet and them drop them on the border

Deleted Member

Sep 12, 07 at 04:01pm
Just make sure they are dropped on the Mexico side of the border.


Sep 12, 07 at 07:00pm
Yep, otherwise our tax dollars will still have to take care of em.


Sep 13, 07 at 06:23am

I would think that a stronger signal would be sent if they used the AC-130s... Spectre or Spooky variant. :mrgreen:


Sep 13, 07 at 07:15am
Ohhh, I like yer thinking there, hehe That would definetely 'send a message' hehe

Deleted Member

Sep 13, 07 at 06:27pm
awwwwwwww,i have a few beaner friends!!!:lol: