US testing surveillance balloons on Mexico border

PENITAS, TX

The Border Patrol plans to demonstrate the helium-filled balloons, which are outfitted with cameras and sensors, to media Thursday in Penitas, about 15 miles west of McAllen.

During a similar demonstration last year, an aerostat tethered 2,500 feet above the ground easily made out the make, model and color of vehicles a couple of miles away. Many of the devices were previously used in Iraq and Afghanistan to provide security around bases.

The Border Patrol believes they could be similarly effective against human and drug trafficking above the challenging terrain of South Texas. The agency has tested similar systems along the border in Arizona.

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