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New Surveillance Technology comes to Starr County

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Posted: Aug 10, 2012 5:13 PM

Updated: Aug 10, 2012 5:54 PM

STARR COUNTY - A tool used against the war on terror will be deployed in western Rio Grande Valley.

Blimp-like aerostats have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan. They now will keep an eye on the ranchlands of Starr County.

"We were coming this way to the house and I saw it lined up with the street," said Fronton resident Jonathan Aguirre. His home is just a few miles from where an aerostat has been deployed.

"I feel safe ... I don't really worry about nothing," Aguirre said. The "Border Patrol is always here."

"This is Department of Defense equipment that we are testing and evaluating ... to see what kind of utility it may have in regards to border enforcement," Border Patrol Agent Enrique Mendiola said.

Details on the balloons are top secret, but video taken by Marines shows the aerostats' images being using during combat.

In Kabul, the U.S. used the balloons to monitor elections for the Afghan people.

The unit has a camera that can see 360 degrees.

The government doesn't need many balloons oversees anymore, so they are moving the technology to the border to keep the gear in use.

"We know how it was used in Iraq. We know how it was used in Afghanistan," Mendiola said. "We just don't know what type of utility it would have in regards to border enforcement, this is a testing phase."

Officials said the testing phase will last several months.

"Anytime you can acquire this type of technology or any type of equipment as a force multiplier, it's always welcomed," Mendiola said.

Topics: aerostat, roma, rio garnde, fronton, starr county, enrique mendiola, border patrol

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