9OYS Border Watch
Black Hawks: key CBP weapon for border security
KGUN9 News gets a first-hand look at these "black helicopters"
Customs and Border Protection has a new weapon in the struggle to secure our borders. KGUN9 News takes a look. Video by kgun9.comvideo
A Customs and Border Protection Black Hawk pilot prepares for a mission
CPB Black Hawks On the flightline at D-M AFB
A Customs and Border Patrol agent prepares to board the Black Hawk that has landed to pick him up.
This story has been updated to include a new video clip at left, correcting a technical issue that had prevented the video from appearing.
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Just after sunrise on a cool October morning Customs and Border Protection Agent Oscar Peru explains emergency procedures on the UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter.
On the mission, the two pilots will dangerously skim the black hawk just feet above the Southern Arizona desert. After the belts are fastened and headsets come on, a thundering sound of air and helicopter blades fill the air as we taxi to the runway.
This flight like hundreds of others conducted by CBP Office of Air and Marine's Tucson Branch allows Joint Field Command Arizona to conduct missions to secure the Arizona/Mexico border. Missions range from ferrying border patrol agents to mountain top locations or tracking down drug or human smugglers.
Ten minutes into the flight a birds eye view gives us a good look at how rugged and mountainous the terrain is. You can see trails etched into the landscape but tracking smugglers carrying bundles of marijuana is not as easy as it looks.
One hour into the flight and we arrive at a border patrol operating base in the mountains near Douglas, Arizona. Rancher Rob Krentz was murdered in 2010 by a suspected smuggler a short distance away from this location.
The forward operating base allows agents to work in the field for up to a week at a time patrolling the rural areas 24/7/365. Todays mission is to ferry some agents to relieve another group on patrol.
We asked CBP Officer Trent Thomas, one of our pilots, if he thought there was any progress being made in the fight to secure the border. He replied "In the eleven years that I've been doing it we've definitely made progress so you're always going to make progress but can you get get it down to zero? I don't see that happening."