Bad people putting lousy ideas into action with the aid of remote controllers are at it again, with police in both the US and Canada recently cuffing pilots using drones to drop contraband into prisons.
The latest development in those illegal aerial activities came with the indictment of a man in Houston accused of using a heavy-lift drone to deliver a range of contraband items to a federal prison near Beaumont. The US Attorney overseeing the case said the defendant had piloted a DJI Matrice 600 Pro in attempting to drop a bag with wire cutters, money, cellphones, charges, and bulk tobacco, but was caught before being able to complete the mission.
A few days earlier, Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the province of Manitoba pinched a pair of men transporting a drone that had been used to lower contraband into the Stony Mountain prison near Manitoba. The two British Columbia residents were charged with responsibility for the package of methamphetamines and what police suspect to be fentanyl found in the penitentiary’s grounds.
The aerial smuggling attempts are part of a growing problem around the world that officials are struggling to contain – not, it would appear, with resounding success.
Instances of drones being used to transport contraband into prisons have been rising in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and South America. Those operations have at times been both large and relatively sophisticated, and in at least one case run by guards inside the penitentiary itself. Many, by contrast, have involved much higher tech than they did IQs.
Be that as it may, the problem of drones flying contraband into prisons is on the rise, and posing a real challenge for authorities.
“Prisons around the country have faced the problem of individuals using drones to fly over prison complexes and drop contraband items to the prison population,” said Eastern District of Texas US Attorney Brit Featherston in announcing the indictment – which also involved regulatory infractions that will add to the defendant’s sentence if convicted. “Under federal law, this type of drone was required to be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration, and (the accused) had failed to do so. Furthermore, to operate a drone under these circumstances, a certificate was needed, which (he) also had not obtained.”
If convicted, the pilot could be sentenced to up three years in federal prison – where, at this rate, he can probably soon expect on-demand drone deliveries of contraband – and a fine of up to $250,000.