BROWNSVILLE, Texas – The new Border Patrol chief for the Rio Grande Valley sector says one of her biggest concerns right now is criminal organizations using drones to spy on her agents in the field.

Gloria Chavez said the groups are buying drones as soon as they are delivered to Best Buy.

Chavez expressed her concern during the Rio Grande Valley Partnership’s recent 2023 Valley Legislative Tour. In a speech to visiting state lawmakers at her alma mater, Texas Southmost College in Brownsville, Chavez said:

“Whenever we get the opportunity to ask folks like yourself or others in Congress for support (it) is, technology that helps us identify folks. Technology that helps us have persistent surveillance on the border. That helps us, you know, make our job a little bit easier. 

“Right now, in the Rio Grande Valley, as beautiful as it is, we have a lot of encounters with drones, you know, coming from across the Mexican side of the border into the United States. And my concern as a chief is mostly for my agents on the border patrolling because they’re doing counter surveillance on us, right? And when there’s a drone doing counter surveillance on us, especially on the personnel on the ground, and the soldiers, because right now I have about 250 Department of Defense soldiers helping us do the mission on the border, they’re doing counter surveillance on our operations and where we deploy our border patrol agents.

“And fortunately, DoD allowed us… we borrowed some technology for counter drone technology to help us. We only have one unit that we’re testing right now. And it’s been so successful that we’ve been able to acquire drones that have come across because we take them over and we bring them down, and we’re able to exploit the intelligence out of that, and we’re able to find out where it originated from. So we’re working very closely with Mexico to be able to make those arrests and be able to prosecute those individuals. 

“But, we need more of that. We really do. Because as more technology advances, more of the criminal organizations are also purchasing that technology. I don’t know how many times I have heard that when Best Buy orders pallets of drones, like within a day, they’re out of it. The drones are gone. They get purchased immediately from the stores. Because guess who’s buying them, the criminal organizations locally. And that’s a huge concern for us because they’re using it against us, right? And these people are not too smart because they record when they’re launching the drone, their faces are on the video. So we love that. I mean, we love it. And it’s a drone. So the GPS is recorded on that. So, we love that. So don’t share that information with anybody. We want them to keep doing that. But, unfortunately, over 24,000 detections of drones in RGV since we started tracking it last year. So that’s a lot and it’s very conservative. So technology for counter drone technology is what the Border Patrol needs right now in the Rio Grande Valley.”

Here is a video recording of Chief Chavez’s remarks to the visiting state lawmakers at Texas Southmost College:


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