Need to Deliver Drugs to Prison? Use A Mini-Drone | The Fix
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Need to Deliver Drugs to Prison? Use A Mini-Drone

Twenty-first century technology is changing the way dealers do business.


Special delivery. Shutterstock

By John Lavitt


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Drug smuggling into prisons has taken a worldwide technological leap as mini-helicopter drones are being used to carry illicit packages over the wall. A mini-helicopter drone recently dropped a half pound of cocaine onto a local prison on the outskirts of São Paulo. Yet, Brazil is not the first such country to be plagued by the mini-helicopter smuggling scheme. Both Australian and Canadian prisons have been victimized. Once someone comes up with a good way to do bad, it tends to spread.

In Brazil at about 10 a.m. on March 7, 2014, the mini-helicopter drone was seen hovering above prison grounds while inmates hung out on the prison patio. According to the Brazilian newspaper Estadão, once the mini-helicopter had dropped its cargo, inmates acting in concert prevented the guards from reaching it. Brazilian authorities believe the inventive hustle is the work of local drug gangs.

Brazil, however, is just the latest in a wave of such attempts to smuggle drugs into prisons. In Australia, a young man was arrested after trying to use a mini-helicopter to smuggle illegal drugs into a Melbourne prison. The first recorded episode was in November 2013 in Canada when guards spotted a mini-helicopter drone rising above the prison walls. A couple was later arrested with both a remote controlled mini-helicopter and a small amount of undisclosed drugs.

Later in 2013, four people were arrested after trying to use a remote-controlled mini-helicopter to fly a bunch of tobacco into a state prison in Calhoun, Georgia. Sheriff Josh Hilton said his deputies pulled over a suspicious black dodge near the prison and described what happened next. "After we gained consent to search the car we found the helicopter and I don't know exactly how much it was but probably about one or two pounds of tobacco rolled up…. People try different things but the helicopter was something new.” 

Apparently, the new technology is being used by both high-level drug gangs wanting to turn a profit and small-time hoods trying to help out their imprisoned buddies. As the smaller mini-helicopter drones get cheaper and capable of carrying heavier payloads, this new outlandish innovation in prison drug smuggling could become a regular challenge.

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