April 25, 2014
On a recent afternoon in this Rio Grande Valley town, Juan Longoria stood in his driveway, talking on his cellphone while enjoying a longneck. The only thing that blocked his view of the clear Texas sky was a tethered blimp floating thousands of feet in the air.
The blimp — which contains video and radar equipment for detecting human smugglers, illegal crossers and drug and human traffickers — was formerly used by the U.S. Department of Defense and is now controlled by the U.S. Border Patrol. It can be seen miles away by drivers on State Highway 83.
What some might consider an eyesore is a welcome addition to Longoria, who said that before the recent influx of equipment like the blimp, also called an aerostat system, he would often chase undocumented immigrants from his property.