Posted: Oct 11, 2012 9:19 PM
Updated: Oct 11, 2012 11:49 PM
SAN ANTONIO - Ranchers are turning to technology to keep an eye on their lands.
Linda Vickers was one of the first ranchers in South Texas to volunteer to have motion-sensing cameras installed on her land.
"I think some of the best images are these huge groups ... nine or 10 in a frame," she said of the images captured by cameras.
The state on Thursday announced hundreds of motion-sensing cameras will be installed throughout South Texas. The project, Operation Drawbridge, will allocate $225,000 to install the cameras on ranches and farms where smuggling is common.
"I believe 2008-2009 ... we were approached because I knew some of the drug and human smuggling routes," Vickers said.
Her family ranch sits 70 miles from the Rio Grande. Yet smugglers cross it almost every day.
The smugglers leave the highway to get around the Border Patrol checkpoint. The immigrants are unaware cameras are watching.
"They never see them. They hardly ever see them," Vickers said.
"The problem we face is not just a Texas problem; It is a national security breech," Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said during a media conference Thursday.
"Landowners are the best source of information, they know what's happening ... not someone that lives in Washington," Staples said.
Staples said the state is looking for more people who want cameras on their land.
Texas Department of Public Safety officials previously had denied the existence of the cameras.
TxDPS Director Steve McCraw on Thursday said there is no reason to keep the program secret.
TxDPS officials did not say where the cameras are installed. They may be inside trees, on fences and even fence posts.
McCraw said the cameras save money and manpower.
"We're able to provide photographic evidence of where that person is ... at the exact time and exact place," McCraw said.
Dispatchers can immediately send officers.
"The intelligence gathering capability of our law enforcement is very important in order to defeat the drug cartels," Staples said.
If you're interested in requesting a camera for your land, you can contact DPS in Austin.