Two Cameron County International Bridges to Install Innovative New Technology

Sept. 10 — Cameron County plans to install some new technology on the Veterans International Bridge in Brownsville and the Free Trade Bridge in Los Indios that can help stop vehicles leaving the United States for Mexico.

The Grab-350 Integrated Vehicle Barrier System will allow officers at international bridges to activate a net system that will pop up and act as a barrier to stop the vehicle in its tracks.

“The global seizure system will also allow law enforcement agencies in Cameron County to work with CBP (Customs and Border Protection) on task forces and ultimately share the seized assets from this operation,” said Pete Sepulevda Jr ., county administrator. “The Global Grab System will complement what the county and CBP have invested in technology over the past two years.”

Cameron County Commissioners approved the purchase at Tuesday’s commissioners court meeting after seeing a presentation by Paul Bazzano, vice president of sales and business development for Global Grab Technologies. The barrier system for both bridges will cost about $2,179,903, documents state.

On Aug. 20, a Cameron County sheriff’s deputy unknowingly drove into Mexico while pursuing a pickup truck that failed to pull over for questioning, the sheriff’s department said in a news release.

The incident happened at the Veterans International Bridge in Brownsville, according to the news release.

The unidentified deputy was assigned to the auto theft division on the bridge when the driver of a green truck pulled up and the deputy noticed the vehicle had fictitious plates, according to the news release.

Although the deputy ordered the vehicle to stop, the driver refused, crashed into the tool shed area and sped off toward Matamoros, the release said.

Bazzano cited this incident as an example of how the net barrier may have prevented the vehicle from crossing into Mexico.

“We’re excited because this is a very innovative project; Cameron County will be the first in the United States to install this system for outbound lane vehicle control … this is a less lethal solution,” Bazzano said.

Bazzano said the federal government also uses the system. “DHS (Department of Homeland Security) facilities are using it right now, and it’s an integrated product that CBP has found to be very successful.”

CBP began using the system in April in inbound lanes at the Veterans International Bridge and has not had “a port runner come into the United States because of the deterrent that the capability brings,” Bazzano said.

“This will allow the technology to help with vehicles crossing illegal cash, illegal proceeds, guns, other weapons and stolen vehicles and missing and wanted persons in Mexico,” Bazzano said.

According to a CBP report, research shows that 80% to 90% of vehicles stolen from Brownsville, McAllen, Laredo and El Paso end up in Mexico.

The barrier system will be able to integrate with the license recognition system on the international bridge so that “as a vehicle enters the bridge area, the license plate recognition system will automatically signal and enable the system to stop the vehicle.” , Bazzano said.

Activation of the barrier can also be done by radio or by an officer on the bridge as a vehicle would attempt to drive away and cross the bridge.

“We could stop stolen vehicles from crossing into Mexico, just think about the situation where you have an Amber Alert, where you have someone who has been kidnapped where this system can stop the vehicle from eventually crossing the US into Mexico. ” said Bazano.

The barrier system will also include a tire shredder so that when the vehicle tries to cross the bridge, it will first come into contact with the shredder, which will shred all four of the vehicle’s tires before approaching the net, Bazzano said. Signs and signals warning drivers that the system has been activated will also be in place.

“With the history of this solution, we’ve never had a fatality and, like I said, we’ve had vehicles hit our barrier system at 70 mph,” Bazzano said.

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