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


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.