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Air Force general reveals ‘alarming’ number of drones crossing into US airspace at southern border: ‘Over 1,000 a month’

The number of unmanned drone incursions is “alarming” and presents a “growing” potential threat to national security,  Air Force Gen. Gregory Guillot, the commander of North American Defense Command and US Northern Command, said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

“The number of incursions was something that was alarming to me as I took command last month,” Guillot said in response to a question from Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC).

“I don’t know the actual number – I don’t think anybody does – but it’s in the thousands,” he added.

When pressed by Budd on the timeframe the general was using to make his estimation, Guillot responded, “We can probably have over 1,000 a month.”

The top NORAD official noted that while the number of incursions alarms him, he hasn’t “seen any of them manifest in a threat to the level of national defense.”

“But I see the potential only growing,” Guillot warned.

Mexican cartels have been using drones to track the location of authorities along the US-Mexico border in order to more easily smuggle humans and drugs, according to US Customs and Border Protection officials.

Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez told the House Oversight Committee in February of 2023 that in her Texas sector alone, more than 10,000 drone incursions and 25,000 drone sightings had been reported in the last year.

“The adversaries have 17 times the number of drones, twice the amount of flight hours and unlimited funding to grow their operations,” Chavez told lawmakers.

In January of 2023, authorities discovered drone footage of Border Patrol agents allegedly shot by human smugglers during a raid of what was believed to be a safe house used to hide migrants illegally crossing the US-Mexico boundary.

“Human smugglers using drones to surveil the Border Patrol is a growing trend that we’ve observed along the border,” San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M. Heitke said in a statement. “This technology provides transnational criminal organizations with new capability that they are eager to exploit.”

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