X-ray tech enhancing drug, gun detection at southern border

(NewsNation) — X-ray technology is being employed along the southern border to beef up security and catch more contraband being smuggled into the United States.

Every day, hundreds of thousands of people cross the U.S.-Mexico border through ports of entry. Every day, smugglers try to sneak contraband through.

For example, the Nogales, Arizona, port of entry seized nearly a million fentanyl pills bound for the U.S. in a single day last week.

Just days earlier, a cache full of firearms was seized on its way into Mexico.

Despite the best efforts of law enforcement, some inevitably sneaks through. The Texas Department of Public Safety alone has seized over 1,500 pounds of fentanyl past the ports of entry since spring 2021 — that equates to over 350 million lethal doses in the state of Texas alone.

“We see a lot of traps that are actually built into the tire inside bumpers, rear differentials, exhaust pipes, car seats, door panels,” said Jim Ryan, CEO of Viken Detection. “These are very sophisticated traps that are inside the vehicle that (with) a visual inspection alone, you’re not going to see it.”

Ryan told NewsNation smugglers are getting more creative, stuffing drugs inside tires, car dashboards and even bags of charcoal.

His company was awarded a $500 million contract and is setting up X-rays at ports of entry along the border to scan the underside of cars as they enter the country. Drugs and weapons hidden from the naked eye show up clearly visible on these scans.

“Weapons, contraband, you know, nuclear material, you name it,” Ryan said. “Anything that is considered contraband will be found.”

Certain ports of entry such as Laredo already have X-ray technology in place to scan trucks coming into the U.S., but not every port has the capabilities, especially not for passenger vehicles.

Ryan said the ultimate goal is to roll out the X-ray technology along the entire border.

“You need to do this in every single port of entry for every single vehicle coming across the country for this to be effective,” Ryan said. “It’s a firewall, and you don’t need a 40% firewall, you need a 100% firewall to protect, and that’s the objective here.”