WASHINGTON, DC— With recent reports showing incidents of drug smuggling along the northern border increasing, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) last month joined a group of border state Senate colleagues in sending a letter to urge federal authorities to deploy military-grade radar technology to combat the illegal smuggling of drugs into the United States from Canada. Today, at a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) oversight hearing in the Judiciary Committee, Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the department is working to deploy the radar.
“I’m pleased steps are now being taken to deploy radar at the northern border to combat drug traffickers who fly over Lake Erie,” said Senator Casey. “This is an essential element to a broader strategy, that should also include increased support rather than cuts for local law enforcement, to tackle drug and gang crime.”
The letter, signed by Senator Casey and Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jon Tester (D-MT), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), pointed to the success of Operation Outlook, a pilot program run between 2005 to 2008 involving cooperation between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Defense (DOD). Operation Outlook used sophisticated military radar technology along the Spokane, WA sector of the northern border to catch low-flying aircraft that would otherwise not have been caught with the current technology used by DHS.
According to the Border Patrol, Operation Outlook “successfully identified air-related smuggling trends and patterns and organizations active in cross-border criminal activities” along the Spokane sector. The senators urged the feds to resume and expand the program.