A multimillion dollar piece of surveillance equipment suffered “catastrophic damage” said Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Roderick Kise via email. Tuesday morning the aerostat blimp tethered to US Coast Guard Base was torn to pieces. DHS said “a broken metal punctured the balloon causing rapid deflation.”  The loss of an aerostat is bad news for federal, state and local law enforcement because it’s a much needed eye in the sky to combat drug smuggling from Mexico and illegal activity. “We feel safer with it” said South Padre Island resident Tommy Saenz, “It monitors air, land and sea. If there’s any illegal activity let’s say in the Gulf of Mexico like illegal fishing they can detect the illegal fishing and go stop that.”

While the blimp is a bust, DHS said in a statement, “CBP removed the sensitive equipment from the balloon to avoid damage to our mission systems.  At this time, CBP is recovering the damaged equipment and assessing options for future operations.”