NORAD Tracks Contact into US

Dec 29, 2010 12:00 AM
Published December 25, 2010
Last night and into the early morning hours of today, the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) tracked an aerial contact that crossed into US airspace near Cape Canaveral, Florida, after it had made multiple stops in The Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, and Colombia, among other places. After significant activity in the Cape Canaveral area, the contact proceeded to the Atlanta metropolitan area and numerous other US locales. NORAD did not indicate that the target had been intercepted by fighter aircraft. Possibly this was the result of their reduced availability due to holiday standdowns.
Although all of the countries mentioned above have at one time or another been used by drug traffickers as points of origin or way stations for smuggling runs into the United States, the multiple stops in each country, as well as activity in multiple locations within the US, do not fit the typical drug smuggling flight profile. Accordingly, the possibility that the contact engaged in the smuggling of other types of contraband, or even in the infiltration of terrorist operatives, cannot be discounted.
Significant ramifications for maritime transportation security could result from this incident. If Customs and Border Protection (CBP), has to divert agents from maritime facilities in order to deal with investigation of the possible smuggling at numerous locations around the country, screening and inspection of imports at the nation's ports will necessarily either be less thorough or result in inordinate delays. (It is worth noting that in recent months CBP has seized over 13,000 counterfeit toys at one port of entry alone.) Additionally, at a time when the Government is on high alert for holiday terrorist plots, the infiltration of terrorist operatives would increase the risk of a transportation security incident (TSI) in the maritime transportation system.
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