Past Features

April 19, 2012

Tracking system nabbing
drug dealers and law abiding pilots

Los Angeles Times -- April 14, 2014   
   A Customs and Border Protection tracking system is snaring many more law-abiding private pilots, who claim federal officers are searching their planes without legal justification.
Ken Dobson, a retired police officer, said he received quite a welcome when he landed his single-engine Cessna in Detroit two days after leaving his home in Palm Desert.
Five sheriff's cars surrounded the plane and deputies got out with guns drawn. Then a helicopter arrived with four federal agents and a drug-sniffing dog.
They demanded to see Dobson's pilot's license, asked about the flight and mentioned that his long trip from Southern California was suspicious. [...]
Determining what flights to intercept starts at the Air and Marine Operations Center at the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside. Able to tap 700 radar installations in the U.S. and neighboring countries, the center can track up to 50,000 aircraft and ships at any time.
Staff members scrutinize thousands of flights each day looking for what they consider abnormalities. Usually, one or two aircraft warrant further investigation. Out of those, only one every few days is checked out at airports by federal and local authorities.
ABP Comment: The Riverside radar system cannot detect ultralight aircraft that cross the US Mexico border every couple of days or so, carrying loads of drugs (or whatever).
  Last summer Glenn Spencer showed CBP officials a system that can detect them, however they have yet to express an interest in it. ....