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Texas border war on steroids with Swiss made surveillance plane, infrared cameras

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A must-read report in the New York Times sheds new light on the militarization of the police. While this blog often focuses on the war on drugs as a primary driver of that process, an attendant catalyst for police militarization is the US government's war on immigrants. There's no question about it: the southwest border—where "narco trafficking" and immigration hysteria meet—is a primary site of police militarization in the United States. In Texas, as the Times reports, things are completely out of hand.

Among the technologies and forces Texas governor Rick Perry has marshaled in a half billion dollar border militarization project are:

  • a $7.4 million Pilatus, "high-altitude surveillance airplane" equipped with "$1 million thermal imaging system and $58,000 night vision goggles";
  • 6 boats for state troopers and game wardens (who are armed and take on border crossers) at a cost of $3.4 million;
  • an "advanced video-camera system that allowed people to watch the live footage on the Internet and report suspicious activity" that cost millions of dollars; and
  • the deployment of 1,000 national guard troops to augment federal border patrol, state troopers, and Texas game wardens.

The Pilatus plane, pictured above, boasts "a $300,000 downlink system that enables the plane's crew to send real-time surveillance images anywhere in the state." Phoenix, Arizona also has a Pilatus surveillance plane, purchased in 2009 for $4.1 million. Read the Center for Investigative Reporting's work on police surveillance planes for more information.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.