Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Mexican Blackbird...

The El Paso drone story triggered a bunch of chatter in certain corners of the blogosphere yesterday.

Somewhat interesting to me were the comments about the "violation of sovereign airspace"...

I'd like to ask a couple of questions:

1) Does anybody know for sure that the drone was not operating with the complete knowledge of the U.S. .gov, perhaps as part of ongoing interdiction operations against narcotraficantes?

2) How often do you think U.S.-operated drones penetrate Mexican airspace along the border, at least to the extent this Mexican drone did? (Hint: It's within a long Fernando Valenzuela line drive of the border fence...)

3) How many U.S. drones have crash-landed in Mexican territory?
I don't know the answers to any of these questions myself, but I figured they might be germane to the issue before I start writing any "REMEMBER THE MAINE!" posts...


Gewehr98 said...

I wouldn't read too much into it if it was a Mexican drone.

Did it crash, or merely take a pre-programmed siesta?

Maybe it was trying desperately to become an American drone?

How many kilos did it have on board?

Just sayin'...

chiefjaybob said...

Does this mean, if the DREM Act passes, we'll have to pay for this drone's kids college and give them a path to citizenship? WHEN DOES THE MADNESS END!?!?!?!?!?/1/1111/1

Chas S. Clifton said...

Given that the crashed drone was quickly returned to Mexican authorities, you are probably right about #1.

I hope that the drones are still too expensive for the cartels to use, but who knows?

staghounds said...

Couldn't get an American drone to do it, too much insurance.

Sovereign airspace, like territorial waters, is a convneient fiction really.

Stranger said...

Unless the river has shifted, a strong arm with a balsa model could chunk it to the border. So any sort of gliding ability at all could have brought the drone from undisputed Mexican airspace to the Estados.

However, any organization that can buy 747's to make a one flight trip to Europe can afford as many drones as most governments. The cartels do not pay their sicarios, cannon fodder, all that well, but they have plenty of money.


Caleb said...

Fernando was a pitcher, not a regular position player. Sure, he could hit alright for his position, but you're better than that!

Ed Skinner said...

Reportedly, yes, the US was aware of the operation of the drone *before* it crossed the border.
So with that assurance, I am *pleased* the Mexican government is using high-tech (read: effective) surveillance to track wrong-do-ers. Presumably, they will be acting on that surveillance, not just watching.
More power to 'em!

Unknown said...

Interesting distraction.

The real story is that more people were murdered in Ciudad Juarez this year than died on 9/11. But pay no attention; those folks were Mexicans, and their lives come cheaper than New Yorkers. Isn't that the message?

Murphy's Law said...

This is me and the new and still-unnamed dog, not worrying.

But we're mounting AA sights in the GPMG, just in case.

Tam said...


"Fernando was a pitcher, not a regular position player."

Yes. ;)

Firehand said...

I just hope that any "Activity in this area" reports are being passed to the Mexican authorities, not the cartels...

Tam said...


Yeah, but what can we do about it?

(Well, other than dial back on the "Narcotraficante Full Employment Act", aka the ridiculous Wo(S)D, which is unfortunately a political non-starter in either party...)

atlharp said...

How did this drone crash? Did the rubber band that was working the propeller break? Maybe the 80's style camcorder duct taped to the thing caused a short circuit fire that ignited the paper mache body. I mean these are are all highly probable scenarios!

Kristophr said...

"Remember the Maine"?

Since when did we need an excuse to carpet-bomb the wogs? That's so 19th Century.

Unknown said...

I know the libertarian talking point: "legalize drugs and they will go broke." Never mind the economic illiteracy of taxing addictive substances like coke, meth, and heroin -- for which people already kill and die for -- or that taxation and regulation would perversely maintain the illicit drug trade by keeping margins high, while decriminalizing the consumer, increasing demand.

The real issue is that it's not going to be enough.

The cartels have supplanted law and order (to the extent that it ever existed in Mexico) and have become de facto government in much of the northern states. They provide food for whole towns. We aren't looking at a drug war anymore. It's a civil war. Cutting off the drug funds would be about as useful there as in Afghanistan -- not at all.

The warlords are in charge. This is going to require tanks.

Ed Foster said...

The only Mexican troops that can be trusted are their Marines, because of the way they are recruited.

Same hundred families, all European blood (barring the occasional Mestizo for photo ops, and he'd better be a college educated one), honor students and serious athletes in highschool (usually private or Catholic), and, after a letter from the Commandante of the Mexican Marines to his American counterpart, an unblemished hitch in the U.S.M.C. before enlistment.

There are very few of them, and the Army is bought and owned by the 'Trafficantes. Work on the assumption that any information the droes get is in druggie hands within minutes.

I'm wondering why the NT's aren't using gliders? With $500 dollar sailboat autotillers tied into GPS units and a simple dive command when the waypoint is found, they could hit any place within a hundred miles of the border plus or minus a few dozen yards.

What's the radar cross section of a few meters of carbon fiber fishing rods and 15 square meters of mylar?

Unknown said...

Mylar is radar reflective, so the radar cross section is approximately 15 square meters.

Just use nylon.

GuardDuck said...

before I start writing any "REMEMBER THE MAINE!" posts...

But to be historically accurate, being germane is not germane.

WV:youtc - the two youtc

Standard Mischief said...

Certainly not anything to rattle a saber over, but it does seem a bit odd that they would fall all over themselves to keep the local cops off the thing and hand the wreckage back across the border ASAP.

Your "knowledge and cooperation" theory might explain things though.

George said...

@Firehand - "I just hope that any "Activity in this area" reports are being passed to the Mexican authorities, not the cartels..."
As if the 'authorities' aren't already compromised by the cartels!

Ritchie said...

There's no need to import drones, we have plenty.

Tam said...


"I know the libertarian talking point: "legalize drugs and they will go broke.""

Which is why I said "dial back" and not "end".

As I get older, I get more comfortable with the fact that the sound-bite answers I tossed about so blithely in my younger days might not work out the way I thought they would.

Still, I can't help but think that focusing on the small end of the supply chain is nothing but a price support for the big end and perhaps a misallocation of resources.

Unknown said...

Which is why Mexico legalized possession last year. Now border populations have cocaine/meth addiction rates approaching 20%. It's no joke. Legalization of the small fry user has driven up demand for trafficking, and has built a culture of loyalty to the drug cartel. The Mexican drug war is fueled by Mexican domestic consumption; it's only financed by smuggling.

Everyone needs to go get to know some of these drug cartel soldiers and mules -- they are addicts who can't afford the habit. Pay attention to the news reports of drug gangs attacking drug treatment centers. There is a reason why rival gang members can be found in high concentration in treatment centers: they are addicts.

Tam said...


As I've already said, I'm comfortable stating that I don't have the solution.

I'd say I'm open to suggestions, but suggesting stuff to me would be pointless.

What do we do? Make drugs illegaler? Execute users in the street? What?

Personally? I think the damage is done and there isn't a solution that is compatible with the continued existence of the modern Western liberal nation-state. The genie is well and truly out of the bottle...

Anonymous said...

I have seen an UAV go into run free little Bob mode, being chased group of Humvees and pickup trucks in Nevada. Very funny when it's not what you were working on

My former boss got to see two very expensive parasitic UAV's fall like bricks on the same test range. In fact like all aircraft they will cease to fly very easily.

There are some design elements involved so if Pedro or Abdul finds one crashed he does not irradiate or contaminate himself or family


Erik in Colo. said...

Well, I have to say it if no one else will:

'The god-damned Germans got nothin' to do with it!'

Remember the main? The main what?

perlhaqr said...

Not being smart enough to not rise to the bait...

Never mind the economic illiteracy of taxing addictive substances like coke, meth, and heroin -- for which people already kill and die for -- or that taxation and regulation would perversely maintain the illicit drug trade by keeping margins high, while decriminalizing the consumer, increasing demand.

Prohibition and the ending thereof suggests this is not how that works. Now, admittedly, the money these cartels have isn't going to just go away all of a sudden, which means they're going to end up the next set of Kennedy's, but they're Mexican, and therefore Mexico's problem at that point.

But if it all becomes truly legal (everything, all the way from possession to distribution, just like beer, wine, and vodka) then there's no more incentive to be all violent to practice the trade. Violence is expensive. Once it ceases to be necessary, those players will settle down to enjoy the fruits of their labor the same way Anheuser and Busch did.

Ed Skinner said...

Here's the drone:

Unknown said...

Shall I assume, perlhaqr, that you've never made the acquaintance of a meth addict? As a pastor, I am presented with the opportunity on a regular basis.

Beer is not an apt analogy.

Caleb said...

Oh Tam, you silly National League fans. Embrace the DH!

Home on the Range said...

Did we give it back to the Mexican government before it ended up in an El Paso pawn shop?

Tam said...


"Shall I assume, perlhaqr, that you've never made the acquaintance of a meth addict? As a pastor, I am presented with the opportunity on a regular basis."

So what do we do? Make meth

I'm sorry, but the weakness of character of your parishioners has already made it nearly impossible for me to treat my common cold.

I have a cure for their meth problem: Give them all the meth they want and Darwin take the hindmost and let me buy my goddam cold medicine again. I truly Hate it for 'em, but tough on the junkies...

Unknown said...

You are correct that you would have to give them meth on the public dime -- merely legalizing it does not change the fundamental criminality of unemployable people who will do anything for more drugs. Still, I suppose we could put that down as the "Machiavelli Solution". Seems more expensive than just killing them outright, as you alluded to earlier.

What a sorry state our morality is in.

perlhaqr said...

Shall I presume, Hypnagogue, that you didn't bother to actually read my post? The underlying addictivity of the substance in question has significantly less to do with the black market economics of dealing in it while it's illegal and the alterations in that market that would arise from it being made legal than the legal status of the substance.

And you can assume (with the usual results) anything you like, though, as both someone who has hung out with bikers for years, and an EMT, I suspect I might know not only more meth users than you, but significantly more perfectly functional casual meth users whose only major problem with the drug arises from the fact that the feds treat possession of it worse than actual rape or murder.

From an economics standpoint, beer is an excellent analogy.

perlhaqr said...

Actually, given how cheap the chemicals to make methamphetamines are, you're right, beer is a terrible analogy, and Listerine is a better one.

And I've seen far more people whacked out on the latter than the former. Come to think of it, tweakers are even a lot more employable than raging drunkards are.

Ed Foster said...

Hypnagouge: My apologies, I'm a little fuzzy after for too much exposure to some solvents. I'll never make a stoner. I actually was thinking of shrink dacron, something similar to what Platt Montfort used on his boats.

As for legalizing the nasty stuff, they tried it in the Liverpool/ Manchester district in England 15 or 16 years ago in a trial program. The number of addicts doubled every 18 months, and, since what they were doing was legal, they all ended up on welfare.

I would be perfectly comfortable with the mandatory execution of all sellers, any amount, and 3 months in slam for all users. Second offence, 6 months, third 9 month, etc. I'd do the same for anybody found driving while drunk.

It wouldn't faze lots of losers I know (including a certain relative), but it might scare some marginal types away from it. Even a free society has the right to defend itself from "instant sociopaths".

I kind of suspect Perlquar is looking at exceptions, and fairly rare ones at that. I worked my way through school as an orderly in an inner city ER, and my son is a narcotics detective in that same inner city. We have a stoner culture nowadays that didn't really exist a few decades ago.

If drugs were legalized, certainly hundreds of thousands, probably million of our fellow citizens would simply sit down and die if we didn't feed them. We alreasy have far too many slugs living off my income.

I also think the booze anology is less than fair. The only comparison between boozers and druggies would be with hopeless alkies, a pathetic but comparatively small part of the total number of drinkers.

Again, I draw no distinction between severe drinkers and your average druggie. They're all broken, and have a pathetic need to be someplace other than reality.

If they exercise their stupidity in public, they should be removed from that public. Make it legal, and every single stoner in the country will sooner or later end up on the same road driven by your wife and kids.

We're talking about dangerous, totally self absorbed children, and legalization would only make them worse.

Unknown said...

Ladies and gentlemen, perlhaqr knows more perfectly functional meth heads than you because he's an EMT. Remain calm, that clicking sensation in your head is just the overload circuit on your sense of irony tripping.

perlhaqr said...

Yep, I was pretty certain you were going to ignore everything of substance I said. Thanks for confirming.

Tango said...

1) I don't give a damn. It was a Mexican piece of spy equipment and it was most definitely flying over innocent citizens in their quest to capture images of ILLEGAL ones. No matter which country does it, it's disgustingly abusive.

2) I don't care, let the Mexicans worry about that. I'm sure it DOES happen and it's wrong, but that doesn't make their drone in our airspace right.

3) Don't care, see #2.

atlharp said...

I'm sorry, but the weakness of character of your parishioners has already made it nearly impossible for me to treat my common cold.

I have a cure for their meth problem: Give them all the meth they want and Darwin take the hindmost and let me buy my goddam cold medicine again. I truly Hate it for 'em, but tough on the junkies...

Agreed, Junkies do drugs from an act of will not because they were born one way or another. I am always amused at how people think that prohibition of a substance is the answer. The real answer is harsh enforcement of the crimes which these addicts commit. At the end of the day, Junkies are citizens who make conscious decisions about their behavior. To imply that it is the drugs that are the problem is to miss the point about who does what. It is right up there with the notion that guns cause crime, and jazz music makes black dudes want white women! Prohibition at the end of the day precludes that you will not make the right decision about your life. It is not so much about Meth, whiskey, bacon, cartels, or some guy with charger full of heroin up his ass, but that we as citizens should be the one responsible about what we partake in.

Kristophr said...

Perlhaqr: no amount of reason will budge someone who did not use reason to get to his current position. His faith requires him to take this good intentioned stand. All of his reason facilities are harnessed and blinkered by his faith to defend this position.

Ed Foster said...

Atlharp and Christopher, I have to politely disagree. The crimes they commit are committed because the person is completely broken. Screwed up enough to want the drugs, completely useless when using them.

Also, the permanent changes in brain structure and blood chemistry are too well documented to dispute. It's an easy google.

A shallow threshold, and when it's stepped or crawled over, whatever trace of adult that was in the loser is gone forever. I've lost close friends and a brother to it, and the term I used, "Instant Sociopath", was deliberately chosen.

It. Changes. You. Forever.

It turns your head to shit, makes you, at best, a creepy disfunctional cripple. At worst, it can make you a walking case of Manslaughter 1.

I don't care who makes the profit from it, be they Mexican drug peddlars or government bureaucrats.

I slightly prefer the Mexicans. At least they're not preachy hypocrites. Something about politicians, a tree and a rope, some assembly required.

Sadly, our society has developed a group of people who will sink as low as we let them. I'd let them slide all the way and write them off, but it would cost us more in money, crime, and decent lives lost if we did.

So let's kick their asses as much as needed, get some work out of them before they self-distruct, and keep some of the borderline cases from taking that last easy step.

Geodkyt said...

Um, Tango?

Your property line doesn't create an event horizon that stops the photons from traveling to places outside your legal control. Nor does your property line emit a mystical field that causes others to avert their eyes, lest they cast their gaze on your yard.

Just like you can't stand stark naked in a ground floor bay window facing a public street and expect your "privacy rights" to not have people look at your godlike physique are enforceable.

If a line of sight exists between the inside of your property and some spot where you do not have property rights, well, they sell these things called "blinds" and "windowshades".

Here's a simple rule: don't do shit in public sight that you are ashamed of. Works for traffic cameras, nosy neighbors, spy planes, passing cops, etc.

Of course, if teh person doing the looking is employing a device that "sees through" barriers opaque to visible light, well, that could be a different matter. But how much resolution do you think a Mexican recon drone is getting out of thermal imagery? Just how big is your "Little Man" that you think they will see ANYTHING of significance through an EO/IR camera from 15,000 feet away?