The U.S. Border Patrol filmed a drone scout flying over border fencing in what agents described as a new tactic by smugglers in the El Paso region.
The drone encounter comes at a hectic time for agents, who apprehended 1,800 undocumented immigrants Tuesday in the agency’s El Paso Sector.
A Border Patrol agent using an infrared night-vision camera filmed the “look-out” drone repeatedly flying over the border, officials said.
Grainy black-and-white video released by the Border Patrol shows an dark object flying near light towers and over what appears to be the border fence.
The Border Patrol said that the drone flew about 100 yards over U.S. soil for about two minutes before returning to Mexico in a pattern repeated three times.
After the third flight, a group of 10 undocumented immigrants crossed the border in the same area, officials said. Border Patrol agents detained the group.
The location of the drone sighting was not disclosed. The Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector stretches over far West Texas and all of New Mexico.
The use of unmanned aerial drones by smugglers to find vulnerabilities has been reported in other parts of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Over the decades, smugglers have flown small, ultralight airplanes to ferry drug loads over the border.
In 2017, Mexican troops arrested three men found with a one-seat aircraft near the town of El Porvenir, across the border from Fort Hancock, east of El Paso.
1,800 migrants detained
Border Patrol officials said that 1,800 migrants were detained on Tuesday, with half of those in the El Paso metro area.
A group of more than 230 migrants were detained at 12:45 a.m. at the Antelope Wells port of entry in the remote Bootheel region of New Mexico.
At about 12:50 a.m., agents detained 360 migrants just west of Mount Cristo Rey in Sunland Park, New Mexico, officials said.
At about 11:45 p.m., agents in Antelope Wells detained a group of more than 130 people, officials said.
For months, an influx of thousands of asylum-seekers from Central America and other nations have been arriving in the El Paso region. The migrants surrender to agents once on U.S. soil.
Those detained on Tuesday included Victor Chavez Ibarra, 46, who the Border Patrol described as a gang member from Mexico with a U.S. criminal record, including arrests for burglary and cocaine possession.
Chavez is being held at the El Paso County Jail in Downtown on a federal charge of illegal re-entry, according to a jail log.
Agents also arrested two men from El Salvador, one as allegedly a gang member and the other had been convicted of a sexual contact with a minor, officials said.
Border Patrol has made more than 71,000 arrests this fiscal year in the El Paso Sector, compared with about 11,000 arrests at the same time a year ago.
The El Paso Sector has become the second-busiest location for apprehensions along the Mexican border.
© 2019 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)
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