Conexión San Ángelo/ Dennis Smith, contributor

SAN ANGELO – For its third consecutive year, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Predator B unmanned aircraft system (UAS) has returned to San Angelo, to conduct border security missions.

AMO’s first-ever UAS deployment from a civilian airfield was at San Angelo Regional Airport, also known as Mathis Field, on a 4-week feasibility test run in 2016. During that deployment, Air and Marine agents successfully arrested seven suspects and seized over 3,000 pounds of marijuana and 11 vehicles. These arrests and seizures were a direct result of the contributions of AMO’s UAS operators to the border security mission in southern Texas.

In 2017, AMO’s UAS crews returned to San Angelo for the city’s location near the border with Mexico; its favorable weather conditions for flight; and the opportunity for co-location with AMO’s San Angelo Air Unit at San Angelo Regional Airport. As with its first deployment, the second run of UAS operations proved successful with 17 suspects arrested and seizures of 7,000 pounds of marijuana and 11 vehicles.

In January 2018, AMO again deployed a UAS crew to San Angelo to conduct missions along the Texas–Mexico border, and the maritime approaches to the United States from the Gulf of Mexico. To date, the crew has seized over 1,000 pounds of marijuana.

AMO’s UAS crews use cutting-edge systems technology and real-time networked data dissemination and exploitation to detect, identify, monitor, and coordinate a response with law enforcement partners to threats at the nation’s border and on approach to the United States. The San Angelo UAS crew, with assistance from U.S. Border Patrol agents, have directed over 300 apprehensions of illegal aliens in remote areas near the border.

AMO aircrews operate the UAS above 18,000 feet using, instrument flight rules while maintaining constant communication with air traffic control for safety. AMO deploys the UAS from San Angelo in accordance with an approved Federal Aviation Administration Certificate of Authorization.

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