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CBP to enhance scanning technology at southern border land ports

5 months 1 week 1 day ago Wednesday, May 20 2020 May 20, 2020 May 20, 2020 8:28 PM May 20, 2020 in News - Local

Ports of entry along the southern border will soon be adding scanning technology to more quickly detect concealed drugs, weapons, cash, explosives and people.

Viken Detection, a Boston-based security technology company, is supplying U.S. Customs and Border Protection with two products. They created a handheld device called an HBI-120, and an in-ground X-ray scanner, Osprey-UVX.

"Specific to the Osprey UVX contract is four systems. Two will be installed in Laredo and two in Brownsville. We expect by the July, August time frame to be completed. The first one is going in Brownsville. We're negotiating a new site for passenger vehicle location in Brownsville," Jeffrey Hunt, Viken Senior Director of Sales and Solutions, said.

Increasing the scanning of traffic at ports of entry is a priority for members of Congress who support the recently introduced Securing America's Ports Act.

"CBP currently scans 15 percent of commercial trucks and one percent of passenger vehicles entering the U.S. and NII [non-intrusive inspection] scanning rates vary significantly by land port of entry," a press release from the office of New Mexico Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small read. She introduced the bill that has since passed the House of Representatives.

Any vehicles heading north through ports of entry can pass through three points of inspection.

Vehicles drive through the preprimary inspection that includes license plate and radio frequency identification readers and radiation detectors in some sites. CBP officers man the primary booths where if they determine the vehicle is suspicious they send them to secondary inspection to have the vehicle looked at closer.

"CBP currently uses a wide variety of tools, including canines, mirrors, scopes and non-intrusive imaging systems," a statement from a CBP spokesman reads.

Viken representatives say their products could help reduce the time it takes to make a determination at the point of the primary and secondary inspection.

"If there is any small drug residue on a tire, canine hits on that, if they want to do a full manual inspection it takes some time and energy to pull that vehicle over to secondary, take that tire off, open up that tire to verify it. You can imagine, that's time that's not spent inspecting other vehicles," Hunt said.

Viken confirmed they have supplied U.S. Customs and Border Protection with more than 200 units of the HBI-120 with plans to secure more including an attachment that expands its scanning area capacity known as the broadwing.

The imaging technology used for both products are used on vehicles to reveal hidden organic materials like narcotics, cash, explosives, and people. It can also be used to detect weapons.

"Drug traffickers like to use lead to disguise the X-rays," Jim Ryan, Viken CEO, said.

The group of engineers also included a feature that would show the presence of lead. That will indicate further inspection will be required.

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