FBI Spy-planes Used for Counter-Drug Investigations
A home in Gastonia, North Carolina was raided on November 3rd by a law enforcement team lead by the FBI. The raid was the culmination of a three year investigation into an alleged crack cocaine distribution ring according to the Gaston Gazette. Weeks prior to this, aircraft from the FBI aerial surveillance fleet had been circling over Gastonia.
The North Star Post reported on the whereabouts of the FBI aerial surveillance fleet for months. Our weekly reports gave the American people a sense of the size, scope and other nuances of the surveillance operation.
These specific flights over Gastonia were not directly above the target locations but due to the power of the surveillance equipment employed by the FBI and the timing involved, it is clear that the ‘FBI Sky Spies’ are used in counter-drug investigations.
The press relations office of the FBI field office responsible for operations in North Carolina declined to comment on these specific flights and directed our investigation to FBI.gov for more information.
Questions remain as to why federal law enforcement agencies requires separate surveillance aircraft fleets when there is clearly mission overlap. The Post disclosed the existence of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) surveillance fleet which consists of at least 92 aircraft. The FBI fleet numbers at least 100 and when confronted for answers as to their mission, the Bureau claimed they are mostly used for counter-terrorism and related criminal investigations.
Half a year later, there is still no official oversight over the operations of this fleet, and the FBI Director has not been reprimanded at all for his deliberate unwillingness to get warrants for their use as is required.