McCain Decries Growth of Cybercyotes

Monday, 09 May 2011 11:34 AM

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Smugglers are turning to technology using spotters, cell phones, and texting messages to help illegal immigrants cross the U.S.-Mexico border and avoid Border Patrol agents. Sen. John McCain last week criticized the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for not cracking down on the practice.

mccain, cybercyotesThe New York Times reported Monday that spotters watch groups of migrants trying to cross border through binoculars from hillsides on the Mexican side of the border.

The spotters keep an eye out for Border Patrol agents and send the border crossers text messages warning them about the agents’ presence and position.

Immigrant activists and border officials say the use of technology to assist those crossing the border illegally is an emerging trend. They’re calling the spotters cybercoyotes.

Smugglers are constantly innovating to elude the authorities, veteran Border Patrol agents say.

“They always come up with new, clever ways of trying to avoid us,” said T. J. Bonner, past president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union for agents. “This way minimizes the risk to smugglers, and you’re using a technology that is relatively cheap.”

In response to McCain’s criticisms during a senate hearing last week, Napolitano said that DHS is aware of the problem with the spotters and that it’s trying to find a way to crack down on them.

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