Human smugglers are now using drones to surveil Customs and Border Patrol agents, the agency recently announced.
“Human smugglers using drones to surveil the Border Patrol is a growing trend that we’ve observed along the border,” said San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M. Heitke. “This technology provides transnational criminal organizations with new capability that they are eager to exploit.”
Border officials said that on Jan. 30, CBP agents encountered approximately 30 migrants crossing into the U.S. at approximately 11 p.m. through the Otay Mesa Port of Entry cargo truck lanes. According to CBP authorities, two migrants were apprehended at the port, but the rest sent additional agents north.
The smugglers were observed picking up several of the migrants and ultimately transporting them to a suspected stash house in National City. According to the agency, agents observed several suspected undocumented subjects attempting to leave the location in a white sedan.
Agents conducted a traffic stop on a white sedan and interviewed the 23-year-old driver and passengers. Through the interview, it was determined that the driver was a U.S. citizen and the passengers in the vehicle had crossed into the United States illegally.
Once the agents entered the home, they encountered a 35-year-old female, a U.S. Citizen, who was later determined to be responsible for managing the stash house. Two additional undocumented migrants were encountered inside the home.
Agents also found $1,000 in cash and a fully loaded AR-15-style rifle, which were later seized.
During the investigation, arresting agents discovered footage that the smugglers recorded of the Border Patrol agents encountering the 30 migrants crossing illegally the previous night. The footage was captured by a drone used by the smugglers.
The two U.S. Citizens were arrested, charged with human smuggling, and transported to a nearby detention facility.