Drug War

Feds Scramble as Smugglers Take to Ultralight Aircraft

DHS is spending $100 million in hopes of detecting the cheap and elusive carriers of illicit intoxicants

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In its continuing campaign to match the ingenuity of drug traffickers, the Department of Homeland Security has awarded a contract worth almost $100 million for a specialized system intended to detect ultralight aircraft used to secretly transport drugs.

Customs and Border Protection officials first began seeking such technology more than two years ago. Slow-moving aircraft flying at low altitudes, sometimes used by drug cartels for carrying narcotics, are difficult to identify by radar. The agency called them "an immediate, high-priority threat" and asked contractors for an existing sensor technology that could enable authorities to identify and monitor low-profile aircraft attempting to cross the nation's borders.