January 15, 2014
Late last year, we reported that the U.S. Border Patrol had lent out its Predator drones 500 times over the past three years. Scratch that, because “newly discovered” data shows that it’s actually been 700 times.
The new numbers were reported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who has been submitting FOIA requests to the agency about its drone use over the last several years. According to EFF, Customs and Border Patrol released the new data just prior to court hearings scheduled for December 2013. CBP said that it “discovered that it did not release all entries from the daily reports for 2010-2012” when asked to via EFF’s FOIA.
And it seems like CBP may have had reason to conveniently misplace these records: The latest information reveals that 53 of the additional 200 flights were taken by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and 20 flights were taken by the Drug Enforcement Agency—uses that are highly likely to be related to criminal activity. The new records also show that CBP lent its drones out to previously unnamed agencies such as the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Minnesota Drug Task Force.