A fake barrel cactus with a camera mounted inside. An unmanned robot hardy enough to explore underground drug tunnels. Software that recognizes faces while tapping into federal databases. “We give them a tasting here,” Steve Roser of Elbit Systems of America, who was hawking drones this week at the annual Border Security Expo, a high-tech bazaar aimed at those who police the criminal shadow lands along international frontiers, tells the Los Angeles Times. “We get them a little interested.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection last year spent $300 million for border security, fencing infrastructure and technology, and has requested nearly $400 million for 2015. The border bonanza may only be beginning. An immigration reform plan debated in Congress last year called for raising the ante by several orders of magnitude, spending as much as $46 billion on heightened border security, including $3.2 billion on sophisticated surveillance equipment. The legislation stalled, but that hasn’t stopped the growth of the gadget-heavy industry on display here at what is billed as the world’s largest exhibit of border security equipment. Attendees from 14 nations surveyed gizmos from 100 vendors aimed at “disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal organizations” — and tapping into an increasingly lucrative U.S. market.