Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Careers in aviation . . .

A drug package can still be seen attached to
the bottom of this downed cartel ultralight plane. 
Photo: ChuckHolton/Flickr
THE WAR ON DRUGS continues its catastrophic process of destroying lives and cultures and consensus. The demand for mood-improving substances in the US is insatiable, as the 99% cope with their financial predicaments, so the Mexican cartels are always looking for new ways to service the demand.

Uncle Sugar has spent large to try to create an all-seeing, all-knowing electronic sensing system to stop these drugs coming north of the Mexican border, with the result that new approaches are necessary, as security tightens to Area 51-level rigor.

So, what to do, if you're in the biz? Ultralight aircraft. They're cheap, relatively easy to fly, almost invisible to radar, and they can carry 100-200 pounds of stuff. According to the LA Times article by Richard Marosi, "Ultralight aircraft now ferrying drugs across U.S.-Mexico border", Mexican organized crime groups are using ultralight aircraft to drop marijuana bundles in agricultural fields and desert scrub across the U.S. border. The incursions are hard to detect and are on the upswing.

Mexican organized crime groups, increasingly stymied by stepped-up enforcement on land, have dug tunnels and captained boats to get drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border. Now they are taking to the skies, using ultralight aircraft that resemble motorized hang gliders to drop marijuana bundles in agricultural fields and desert scrub across the Southwest border.

What began with a few flights in Arizona in 2008 is now common from Texas to California's Imperial Valley and, mostly recently, San Diego, where at least two ultralights suspected of carrying drugs have been detected flying over Interstate 8, according to U.S. border authorities.

The battle continues. According to WIRED, Uncle Sugar just spent another 100 million dollars on the latest surveillance tech to try to stop the ultralights. Robert Beckhusen's article, "Feds Drop $100 Million to Spot Flying, Homebrew Cocaine Mules" declares that, 

Stopping drug smugglers on the ground is one thing. You can build a fence, send more Border Patrol agents and put up more cameras. But it’s a whole other thing to stop Mexico’s cartels from using tiny planes that are nearly impossible to catch.

That’s why the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is spending $100 million on new sensors that can detect ultralight aircraft. The giant contract — awarded to New York defense company SRCTec earlier this month — comes as the cartels have been using more of the planes to elude Border Patrol agents. The cartels also seem to have become pretty good at it. The Air Force has chased them with jets, and the Border Patrol has pursued them with Black Hawk helicopters.

Closer to gliders than complete planes; ultralight planes are small, cheap and their engines are relatively quiet. They move slowly, but are flown low to blend in with the southwest border’s rugged and hilly terrain, which the smugglers use to hide from radar. The last available data on ultralight incursions is from 2011, when the CBP detected 223 flights, double from two years prior. It stands to reason the real number is much higher, owing to the diminutive aircraft’s sneakiness.

However, the problem still remains, because the drugs get dropped, collected and people get happy and conservative America can go on pretending that the War On Drugs is working, until sometime in 2013, when it seems likely that a number of central-south American countries are going to publicly renounce their participation.


Steve said...

how long before they are sending stealth bomber drones full of drugs?

Edstock said...

That might be a year or two, but they could start flying R/C planes as distraction, trailing nice cheap 300-ohm antenna wire lengths so it shows up really well on radar as some large smuggling plane.