Note: From HST. People up here seem to consistently be surprised by
the capabilities and resources of our pharmaceutical and labor supply
Sponsored by: Read the digital edition of Homeland Security Today.
Narco-Traffickers Use Wireless, Motion-Activated Cameras To Monitor
By: Anthony Kimery
Counternarcotics agents in the Albany District Office (ADO) of the
Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) New York Field Division are
investigating an unnamed Mexico-linked drug smuggling organization
that was shipping marijuana from Arizona to New York in large wooden
crates that were outfitted with motion-activated cameras to detect
tampering, according to a DEA intelligence report issued last month.
Obtained by Homeland Security Today, the bulletin said the cameras
were made by Smart Scouter, a brand of motion-activated camera
similar to the kinds of mobile, motion-activated cameras that hunters
and biologists routinely mount on trees to track and record the
movement of wildlife.
"When the Smart Scouter takes a photo, the user is notified by text
message," and "in this way, the target would have been alerted in
real time if the [crates of marijuana] had been opened by law
enforcement or anyone other than the intended recipient," the DEA
Users can retrieve photographs taken by the cameras and manage the
cameras from a computer or cell phone.
The DEA "intelligence note" stated, "Agents in the ADO successfully
used an administrative subpoena to obtain the target's account
information and telephone numbers from the Smart Scouter company. ...
The two Smart Scouter devices the target was using were assigned area
code 847 telephone numbers, which were used for sending data through
the cellular network. The company was also cooperative in providing
call records for the devices and providing photos taken by the device
to the Albany DO."
The 847 area code is assigned to Illinois.
According to federal counter-drug officials, the Mexico-based
Federation, Gulf and Juárez Cartels have long been entrenched in
Illinois, with significant operations in the Chicago metro area. DEA
has said these cartels supply most of the cocaine, methamphetamine
and marijuana that's distributed in the Chicago region, which serves
as the major hub for the delivery and transshipment of these and
other drugs throughout the Great Lakes region and the Midwest.
The National Drug Intelligence Center said the most common means that
traffickers employ to transport drugs into Illinois for sale and
distribution are commercial trucks, passenger vehicles, package
delivery services, air packages or couriers and railways.
Government southern border security officials told Homeland Security
Today that "place and leave" motion-activated cameras have also been
found along drug- and human-trafficking routes. Investigations found
the devices were relaying text messages, still photographs and video
to cell phones and IP addresses linked to known and suspected members
of Mexican transnational criminal organizations (TCOs). Some of the
video was accessable in real-time via the Internet.
The officials, who spoke only on background, said these remotely
accessed cameras not only were being used by cartels to monitor their
trafficking activities, but that they also were being used to gain
situational awareness of US Border Patrol and other border law
enforcement activities as part of intelligence collection efforts to
assess when and where to conduct trafficking operations.
According to the DEA bulletin, in order to use the Smart Scouter's
wireless capability, the user has to establish an account with Smart
Scouter and purchase a wireless data plan through the Sprint, AT&T or
VTS networks. When the device takes a picture, it is transmitted over
the cellular network to the Smart Scouter's servers, and the user
receives a text message alert that a new picture is available. The
user can then view the picture by logging in to his account.
The DEA's intelligence alert indicated that two Smart Scouter models
were involved: the "Wildlife Management Camera" and the "Black Ops
940," both of which are substantially similar in appearance, though
the Black Ops model has a low-visibility finish and is advertised as
having a wide-angle lens.