US testing surveillance balloons on Mexico border

This undated photo provided by the U.S. Border Patrol shows an aerostat like those being tested along the U.S.-Mexico border (AP Photo/U.S. Border Patrol)

December 19, 2013 5:29:39 AM PST
The U.S. Border Patrol continues testing aerostats along the Texas-Mexico border that were originally used for surveillance by the Department of Defense.

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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