The Main Stream

Mar 21, 2014 7:53 PM by Michel Marizco

N4T Investigators: Customs and Border Protection towers not just on the border

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will build six towers east and west of the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 19, officials confirmed Friday.

Agency officials said the initial towers are a more careful approach to using tower technology. It comes three years after the Homeland Security Department scrapped a similar but far bigger project, the Strategic Border Initiative. That cost one billion dollars.

The new system was awarded to Elbit Systems of America, an Israeli company that worked with the Boeing Corporation on the failed SBInet project, News 4 Investigators revealed in February. The company will use cameras and radars able to track movement up to six miles away.

The new tower system will be tested near the checkpoint and if successful, will be extended to five other areas of Arizona. Those include Sonoita, Douglas, Ajo, Casa Grande and Wellton.

Earlier in March, the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, criticized this latest project. Auditors found that Customs and Border Protection did not have a master plan to ensure this new tower system will actually work.

Customs and Border Protection technology programs head Mark Borkowski told a House border subcommittee in March that ultimately, the new tower system would cost $500 to $700 million over the next years. He also rejected the GAO's recommendations to develop a master plan.

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