Five full-body scanners to be used in Chile to catch drug traffickers

Published 14 April 2010

Chile is deploying full-body scanner at border crossing along its border with Peru to prevent drug smuggling; during a 1-year test period, two million people were scanned, and 51 kilograms of cocaine, carried by 42 different border-crossers, seized

The Chilean Civilian Police Force will begin using five full-body scanners in the Chacalluta Airport and at the highway control at Cuya: two check-points controlling the Chilean border with Peru and Bolivia, which are considered hot spots for narcotics.

In a test period of one year, one scanner alone scanned two million people and assisted in the seizure of 51 kilograms of cocaine carried by 42 different passengers.

The Pulse reports that the scanner, created ten years ago, was originally used by mining companies in Africa to prevent the robbery of diamonds from large diamond deposits. It was subsequently used to enhance security in various U.S. airports in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

It works by emitting a series of X-rays that examine the body and within six seconds reveals any hidden objects or substances that the passenger may carry, underneath his clothing or inside his body.

Chilean law permits the use of such scanners to search “suspicious” passengers who display telltale signs of drug-use, such as a dry mouth or yellow eyes.

Although, as of yet, no one has resisted a full-body scan, authorities predict that travelers, especially those with means, may begin to do so. Predictions of complaints are probably based on the reaction of travelers in the United States, who protested that full-body scanners violate the right to privacy.