Photo: Courtesy Photo /Viken Detection
A Boston-based manufacturing company that specializes in x-ray technology for issues related to public safety is aiding U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the fight against drug and human smugglers.
That company is Viken Detection. Viken’s Handheld X-Ray Imager dubbed Nighthawk HBI (Handheld Backscatter Imager) is used along the southern border. This scanner can be used to scan a vehicle in minutes as opposed to an officer having to dismantle a suspicious vehicle.
Also used along the border is Viken’s Osprey UVX (Under Vehicle X-Ray) system which scans the undercarriage of a vehicle in seconds, identifying drugs and other concealed contraband in aftermarket compartments.
In real time, authorities are able to see if a vehicle has concealed humans, drugs, weapons or cash, said Viken Detection CEO Jim Ryan.
“Officers can see images that are created in real time, almost like an electronic X-ray flashlight to see into the vehicles and see if there’s any drugs, cash or weapons that are inside a particular spot without ever interacting with it. Today with a lot of the drugs being a lot more dangerous in higher concentrations, an officer never has to tip anything apart. They are able to see exactly inside parts of the vehicle and determine if there’s any contraband being hidden,” Ryan said.
Ryan explained that a vehicle could be scanned with the under vehicle scanner, which provides a comprehensive view of an area typically difficult for an officer to see.
“We’ve seen all sorts of traps inside of tires, side rails of the vehicle. We’ve seen them in exhaust pipes, mufflers, some engine voids, trunk voids. The most difficult part of the vehicle to see is the under vehicle. You’re going to have to get it on a lift to see and inspect it. This allows for a much better view of the vehicle without having to do any of those sorts of operations,” Ryan said. “The way we built this machine is to be quick. As the car drives over a couple mph, we’re able to create that image in real time. If there are border crossings that tend to be congested quick and efficient”
Should authorities discover anomalies within the vehicle, they could use the handheld imager for further inspection of traps or aftermarket compartments.
“The handheld has been a great hit for us and a great tool for law enforcement. It was a game changer for this type of inspection of vehicles, but to really attack the large flow of drugs, it’s not going to be one vehicle at the time being inspected. It’s going to be creating these types of vehicle scanners where you can just do it in much larger volumes to start hitting drug traffickers on a much greater scale,” Ryan said.
He added, “I’m happy to be part of this mission and give any law enforcement agency tools so they can help disrupt the flow us drug and human trafficking. I’m proud to be part of that.”