One of the most important deals reached during the recent visit by Mexican president Felipe Calderon to the White House had to do with bilateral trade. But according to a New York Times article published today both Calderon and Barack Obama agreed to continue with the use of U.S. military drones along the border with Mexico.
The aim of the previously undisclosed agreement according to the Times is to collect intelligence on Mexican drug gangs. The data gathered by the drones reportedly helped with the capture of several suspects connected with the shooting death of U.S. immigration agent Jaime Zapata.
Mexico’s constitution strictly limits the operation of foreign military and law enforcement authorities. Nonetheless, CNN cited a statement from the Mexican National Security Council affirming that the drone activities are “undertaken with full respect to the law.”
The drone program started in February and includes the use of the Air Force’s Global Hawk that is unarmed, uses sensors and can reach altitudes of 60,000 feet.
The border drones have been previously used in order to catch illegal migrants though that program was not without its mistakes:
It used to be that the Department of Homeland Security flew drones over the U.S.-Mexican border to watch for illegal immigrants. That proliferation of military technology to a civilian mission isn’t without its share of malfunctions: Not only did the communications systems occasionally fritz out, but on at least one occasion, a small drone — the property of the Mexican government — crashed into an El Paso backyard.
Image- France 24
Online Sources- BBC News, The Latin Americanist, New York Times, CNN, wired.com