Hi-tech network to detect drug and people traffickers in Atlantic
The satellite communications network which goes online later this year will detect the traffickers even before they reach the Iberian Peninsula.26 May 2008
MADRID - A hi-tech and theoretically impenetrable satellite communications network is due to go online later this year to detect drug and people traffickers in the Atlantic hours or even days before they can reach the Iberian Peninsula.
The Sea Horse Network, as the project is known, will connect Spanish and foreign intelligence agents in Portugal, Mauritania, Senegal and the Cape Verde islands to a central headquarters in Las Palmas in Spain's Canary Islands to monitor maritime traffic along the West African coast.
The network, which will be linked via SpainSat, a secure geostationary satellite owned by Spain's Defence Ministry, is intended to help Spanish authorities detect drug traffickers and boats carrying clandestine migrants toward Europe.
In addition to information from intelligence services, the system will also incorporate data gathered from the maritime Automatic Identification System (AIS), which is used to track boats over 500 tons, and from Spain's SIVE coastal radar system.
Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba toured West African nations last week. Among other measures to boost regional security, he offered the Malian government assistance in preventing Al Qaeda from operating in the country's desolate north, from where Islamist terrorists are thought to be preparing attacks in North Africa and Europe.
[El Pais / Toma Barbulo / Expatica]