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Keeping Las Vegas’ Super Bowl safe: Helicopters and a no-drone zone

Updated February 9, 2024 - 7:47 pm

Federal authorities will be working this week to intercept and confiscate counterfeit goods made for Super Bowl 58.

Counterfeit goods such as bogus jerseys and Super Bowl rings are usually manufactured abroad and brought to big-ticket events like the Super Bowl to sell, said Christopher Miller, special agent in charge of Las Vegas Homeland Security Investigations, during a Monday afternoon news conference held at Harry Reid International Airport related to security ahead of Sunday’s Sunday Bowl at Allegiant Stadium.

“We identified and seized over 4,500 counterfeit items valued at just under $1 million (in the last year),” Miller said. “Operations like this will continue for the duration of Super Bowl week and beyond. Counterfeit merchandise is a multibillion-dollar industry. However, it is not a victimless crime. Oftentimes, these items could be produced by victims of labor exploitation. The goods are illegally imported and smuggled in the United States and often pose a health and safety danger to the consumer.”

Airspace security

In addition to patrolling the airspace over the stadium with Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and Eurocopter AS350 Astar helicopters, agents will work to keep weapons, explosives and contraband from entering public areas, including the stadium, the Super Bowl Experience at Mandalay Bay Convention Center and the airport for visitors’ return trips after the game.

“Our team of aviators will provide real-time, high-definition downlinks to the Super Bowl Command Center while enforcing the Federal Aviation Administration’s temporary flight restriction over the stadium,” said Cheryl Davies, lead field coordinator for Customs and Border Protection’s Super Bowl event. “This unique eye-in-the-sky capability is critical for security of the event as the team is able to detect and intercept any suspicious aircraft attempting to enter the restricted zone.”

Grounding drones

Security officials have the technology to spot and ground a drone flying in a restricted area.

The FAA will impose a temporary flight restriction from 2:30-8:30 p.m. on game day — a standard Super Bowl procedure. The game is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.

The temporary flight restriction will be centered in the airspace above Allegiant Stadium with a 10-mile inner core and a 30-mile outer ring.

Commercial flights landing and departing from Reid Airport won’t be affected by the temporary flight restriction. Emergency medical, public safety and military aircraft may enter the area in coordination with air traffic control.

Karen Burke, the federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration in Nevada, said she expects a record number of people will pass through security checkpoints at the airport the day after the Super Bowl.

“On Monday, we’re expecting probably close to 115,000 people will go out of the airport, and that’s probably going to break every record we’ve had here at the airport,” she said.

TSA is bringing in an additional 75 agents after the game, so every lane of every checkpoint will be operational for 48 hours, Burke said.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X.

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