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‘Stingray on steroids’: Texas National Guard has spy devices on planes

Devices capable of accessing calls, photos and text messages on cell phones were installed on two Texas National Guard surveillance aircraft. The project was funded by over $300,000 from drug-related asset forfeitures.

A contract between the Maryland-based Digital Receiver Technology Inc. and the Texas National Guard shows that two DRT 1301Cs were installed in National Guard aircraft in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration. The $373,000 purchase was made with state drug-asset forfeiture money, the Texas Observer reported.

The cell site simulators, known as “dirt boxes” (after the company’s acronym, DRT), are designed to mimic cell phone towers and trick every smartphone within one-third of a mile into connecting with it. This enables operators to intercept sensitive information including the user’s location, phone numbers dialed, text messages and photos. The devices can also be used to record or listen to phone calls ‒ all of it without users or service providers knowing about it.





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