SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Residents say that since October, they’ve been seeing more and more drones flying over their homes in Coral Gates, a small community in San Ysidro, Calif., just north of the international border with Mexico.
Its distance from the city of Tijuana can easily be covered by a drone, especially at night.
“I see them all the time,” said a woman named Yesenia. “I also see people in cars that just sit there for hours, it looks strange.”
Border Patrol agents have also taken notice.
“We’ve seen it in the past, but in recent months we’re seeing a slight uptick with the use of the drones,” said Agent Justin Castrejon. “They are using the cover of night mostly to smuggle illegal contraband into the U.S.”
Castrejon said the illegal cargo can be cocaine, meth and other substances.
“The operator of the drone could be in Mexico or could be here in the U.S.” said Castrejon.
The Border Patrol is trying to work with residents hoping they’ll report suspicious activity both in the sky and on their streets.
“What you might think is innocent activity could be drug smuggling activity: cars parked, drones flying overhead. That could very well be a drug-smuggling event happening right in your neighborhood,” Castrejon said.
The Border Patrol has set up a hotline for people to call and report any suspicious activity. It’s anonymous, and according to Castrejon, they will dispatch agents right away to investigate people’s concerns. The number is (619) 498-9900.
Recently, a drone fell from the sky with a couple packets of narcotics strapped to it.
“We’re up against entities that know how to leverage these type of commodities and will exploit that,” said Homeland Security Investigator Chris Davis. “It’s very important to follow up on these investigations to see what kind of evidence we can recover and use it to disrupt and dismantle organizations that are operating on the other side of the border from us.”
Davis also stressed the need for the public to get involved.
“We need the public to be our eyes and ears, so it’s absolutely essential when they see something like this we want you to call,” said Davis.