They're trying to infiltrate our precious bodily fluids!
Even in tough economic times, the war on drugs (read: war on sanity) remains a cash cow. Apparently it's important enough to patrol our norther border that Customs is going to start using a $10 million Predator drone to search for people crossing illegally and bringing in drugs. The planes can stay aloft for 18 hours, and fly at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet, so they can keep us safe from those nasty Canucks trying to cross our borders with their Great White Northern Lights weed. According to NY Times story, quoting John Stanton of the Customs and Border Protection Service:
Along the entire northern border, Customs and Border Protection officials make about 4,000 arrests and intercept about 40,000 pounds of illegal drugs each year.
For the moment, though, the flights from Grand Forks will remain mostly along the 300 miles of the upper edge of North Dakota and a slim part of Minnesota, Mr. Stanton said.
He went on to say that Customs was going to begin employing the drone flights "...because the planes had become available..." which just goes to show you, if you build it, they will come. If there's a technology available, the anti-drug fanatics will find a way and a justification to use it. To wit, in a delightfully Rumsfeldian quote
Asked whether he expected to uncover a significant problem with drugs, border crossings or terrorism in northern North Dakota, Mr. Stanton said no one was sure.
“We hope to actually use this aircraft to measure that,” he said. “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
Excellent. Your tax dollars at work.
General John Stanton of the Customs and Border Protection Service