High-Tech Tunnel Vision Comes to Border - NBC 10 Philadelphia

High-Tech Tunnel Vision Comes to Border

New technology to help the Border Patrol detect border tunnels

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    The U.S. Border Patrol may soon get some new high-tech technology: tunnel vision to spot illegal passageways along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

    The Department of Homeland Security is now working with Lockheed Martin on a new radar system. If successful, the system will help agents locate border tunnels and plug them up. The tunnels are often used by human smugglers and drug traffickers. 

    The technology being considered works by sending signals into the ground and has already being tested in the field.

    Dr. Eric Frost, a professor of geological sciences at San Diego State University works with the school's Homeland Security program.

    "The tunnels become very valuable, and it's not just for moving drugs north, it's for moving guns south," said Frost.

    The radar antennas would be towed by Border Patrol agents in trailers, looking for pockets of air underground.

    "Air is really easy to see [because of] the difference between the speed of the rock and the air, so a tunnel you actually see it because it's made out of air," said Frost.

    Nationwide, a little more than 100 tunnels have been found near the border since the early 90's, many of them in California, but most have been found by human surveillance  or by accident.

    But Frost doesn't believe the new radars will be the end of all smuggler's tunnels in the future.

    "There are people on the south side of the border who understand physics just as well as we do, so it isn't a silver bullet," he said.