- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 3, 2018

Criminal gangs are getting creative with drone technology to combat law enforcement’s efforts to rein them in.

Attendees at this year’s AUVSI Xponential conference on drone technology were given new examples as to how far criminal gangs will go to thwart authorities. In addition to counter surveillance measures against U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents, a “law enforcement-sensitive” incident last winter demonstrated offensive measures employed by criminals.

Joe Mazel, the head of the FBI’s operational technology law unit, shed some light on an attack aimed at a Hostage Rescue Team.

“[Agents] heard the buzz of small drones — and then the tiny aircraft were all around them, swooping past in a series of ‘high-speed low passes at the agents in the observation post to flush them,’” he told a Denver audience on Wednesday, Defense One reported. “We were then blind. It definitely presented some challenges.”

Mr. Mazel also noted how criminal organizations are using drones to surveil police departments.

Witnesses are intimidated as a result of a gang’s ability to monitor “who is going in and out of the facility and who might be co-operating with police.”

Law-enforcement personnel want laws passed requiring drones that fly beyond their operators’ line of sight to broadcast an identity, Defense One added.

“Remote identification is a huge piece [of cutting down on drone crime],” Angela Stubblefield, the FAA’s deputy associate administrator in the office of security and hazardous materials safety, told the website. “[It enables] both air traffic control and other UAS [unmanned areal systems] to know where another is and enabling beyond line-of-sight operations. It also has an extensive security benefit to it, which is to enable threat discrimination. Remote ID connected to registration would allow you to have information about each UAS, who owns it, operates it, and thus have some idea what its intent is.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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