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Lost migrants rescued by Predator drone crew

Pilots flying a Predator drone out of Sierra Vista for U.S. Customs and Border Protection are credited with rescuing three migrants lost in the desert earlier this month, authorities said. 

On Aug. 4, Border Patrol agents at the Joint Intelligence Operations Center in Tucson received a 911 call from three men who said they were lost in the desert and needed urgent medical care. 

The agents relayed this call to Sierra Vista, where CBP's Office of Air and Marine maintain four "Predator" drones, part of the agency's border surveillance program. A Predator-B was dispatched to search for the group using a specialized radar system known as VADER, which can detect people moving through the desert. 

Approximately 10 minutes after the call, the Predator crew spotted the group, authorities said. The crew relayed the video to agents in Tucson, who dispatched a helicopter carrying agents with the search and rescue team known as BORSTAR to pick up the immigrants and transport them to a Tucson hospital. 

This is the second rescue credited to the drone program this year, authorities said.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

One of four 'Predator' drones located in Sierra Vista as part of Homeland Security's border surveillance program.