Verified SBInet Success in Much-Vilified Tucson Sector

By Janice Kephart on March 31, 2011

Border technologies such as the now-canceled Secure Border Initiative (SBInet) work. From the Tucson Border Patrol comes this:

On March 29, 2011, the Tucson Station apprehended a large group of illegal aliens south of Arivaca, AZ. The group of aliens, 78 in total, was detected and tracked by tower 298. Utilizing the SBInet system, agents were able to respond to the area and safely apprehend 57 illegal aliens from Mexico, without incident.

Note on the very bottom of the below map "tower 298". This map – along with future SBInet deployment maps – have not been permitted to be released by the Department of Homeland Security (even in its publicly available SBInet Assessment).


SBInet in Tucson


(Laydown and site detail for TUS 1: 17 total towers including 9 sensor towers, 8 communications towers (4 new/4 existing); and 1 C2 Center mostly in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and Coronado National Forest that required eco-friendly towers approved by the Department of Interior and Department of Agriculture, respectively.)

Perhaps the apprehension of all 78 (not just 57) would create a larger cheer from those interested in securing the border, but what this reporting tells us is that in a remote area close to the border, without SBInet, this group would likely not have been detected and apprehended. Why? These towers were placed in remote wildlife areas traditionally successfully trampled by smugglers because of a lack of coverage due to federal wildlife laws, difficult terrain, and lack of detection and "common operating picture" technologies. While most smugglers now avoid this area referred to as Tus-1 because of the large number of apprehensions that area has experienced since Tus-1 was deployed in February 2010 (causing the Tohono O'odham Reservation to the west and other sectors of the Coronado National Forest and Peak Canyon to the east to increase in traffic), apparently a few still try.

What is the take-away from this tidbit of news, otherwise just another day in the life of the Border Patrol? That information that continues to seep out about SBInet's Tus-1 and Ajo-1 sectors that relate significant detections and apprehensions that otherwise likely otherwise would not have occurred indicate hope that for the first time in our nation's history that the southwest border can be made operationally secure. The technology that was never available before is now available through SBInet and other reliable technologies that address and cover different terrains and different modes of entry such as tunnels and air transit; the ability to build appropriate fencing; and adequate personnel numbers provided by Congress. All that seems to be missing are true secure border strategies and policies.

The sad irony is that Obama Administration has squandered its opportunity to declare the Arizona border secure by deploying appropriate technologies, infrastructure, and personnel backed up by strong border policies and strategies. However, that does not mean that we cannot achieve border security. It simply means we have to continue to expose the facts and circumstances that will assure America that border security is doable and in sight, and then harness our policy-makers to make it happen.

Prior SBInet materials:

* Sunday Morning on Fox News, January 19, 2011, when SBI's cancellation announced.
* "Keep SBInet", USA Today rebuttal to editorial board opinion on SBI cancellation, per the editorial board's request, January 26, 2011.
* "Large Group Nabbed Right Where SBInet Is Operational", CIS Blog, February 25, 2011.
* "Secure Border Initiative Proves Itself Again", CIS Blog, March 8, 2011)
* "In Two Weeks, 295 Apprehensions in the Ajo SBInet Sector", CIS Blog, March 11, 2011.
* "80 Miles North of the Arizona Border, The Drugs Keep Coming", CIS Blog, March 25, 2011.