A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program to keep tabs on cars close to the U.S.-Mexican border has been gradually expanded nationwide and is regularly used by other law enforcement agencies in their hunt for suspects.
The extent of the system, which is said to contain hundreds of millions of records on motorists and their journeys, was disclosed in documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. Much of the information disclosed to the ACLU was undated, making it difficult to understand the growth of the network, which is different from the cameras used to collect traffic tolls on expressways.
One of the undated documents said more than 100 cameras had been deployed in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey. The cameras snap each vehicle that passes, recording its license plate, the direction of travel and the time. Some cameras also snap a picture of the driver and passengers.