Published October 25, 2011
A new high-tech, low-cost camera system is helping to detect illegal immigrants along the Texas-Mexico border, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The new system of cameras is catching undocumented immigrants sneaking across private ranches and farms -- groups that would have otherwise gone undetected, according to local landowners.
“There are literally hundreds of trails out here that are being frequented and used by drug smugglers and human smugglers, ” said border rancher Michael Vickers. “There’s a lot of desperate people coming in here from all over the world and, frankly, a lot of them are getting through.”
Unlike past cameras used along the Southwest border, these cameras do not provide a live video stream that must be constantly monitored. Instead, the cameras only snap pictures when something triggers a sensor. Then, within seconds, an image is emailed to command center in Austin.
Once the photograph is verified as illegal activity, it’s passed along to local and federal authorities monitoring the border.
“We’re providing the imagery so they can make the best choice on how to respond to criminal activity that we’re helping to detect at the state level, ” said Capt. Aaron Grigsby with the Texas Rangers.
During a ten-month test phase, using just 20 cameras in South Texas, officials made more than 130 arrests.
"We can hide them virtually anywhere, said Hank Whitman, chief of the Texas Rangers. “They are small, compact, but we move them consistently. There’s no sense trying to look for them because you’re not going to find them.”
The cameras cost roughly $300 each and the state plans to install 400 more along the 1,200-mile border with Mexico within the next four months.