n their unending battle to deter illegal immigration, drug trafficking and terrorism, U.S. authorities already have beefed up border security with drug-sniffing dogs, aircraft and thousands more agents manning interior checkpoints.
Now, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has decided it wants more, and the Justice Department agency doesn’t care whether someone has even set foot in Mexico.
Clusters of what at first appear to be surveillance cameras have begun turning up in recent months on the Southwest border, and while some of the machines are merely surveillance cameras, others are specialized recognition devices that automatically capture license-plate numbers and the geographic location of everyone who passes by, plus the date and time.
The DEA confirms that the devices have been deployed in Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico. It has plans to introduce them farther inside the United States.
Special Agent Ramona Sanchez, a spokeswoman for the DEA’s Phoenix division, said the information collected by the devices is stored for up to two years and can be shared with other federal agencies and local police. She declined to say how many have been installed or where, citing safety concerns.