Wednesday, 30 September 2015
Emerging Threat: Drones Now Used To Smuggle Drugs, Light Weapons
A 28-pound bale of Marijuana with an estimated street value of $10,000 reportedly crashed through the roof of an Arizona family’s garage and landed in an empty dog cage earlier this month, in the latest case of drones smuggling narcotics into America.
Nogales, Arizona police told CNN Monday they suspect the marijuana bundle accidentally fell on the family’s carport from the clutches of an “ultralight aircraft” like a drone.
This is the most recent instance of drones smuggling drugs from Mexico into the U.S. In early August, two California men pleaded guilty to picking up 28-pounds of Mexican heroin after a drone drop. And in January, Mexican officials found six-pounds of meth strapped to a crashed drone next to the California-Mexico border.
“With border security tight, drug traffickers have thought of every conceivable method to move their drugs over, under and through the border,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy told the Los Angeles Times. “We have found their tunnels, their Cessnas, their jet skis, their pangas, and now we have found their drones.”
The Times reported Mexican cartels are even hiring engineers to design custom drug drones. Homeland Security agent Ronnie Martinez told The San Diego Union-Tribune that cartels have not been especially profitable with the drones, but this latest method of smuggling narcotics is an “emerging threat” to the U.S.
Typically Mexican cartels drop illegal substances from drones in the desert or on the edge of towns, leading Nogales police to believe the marijuana was accidentally dropped on the Arizona house because of pilot error, not because the bundle of weed was too heavy.
“We have seen bundles of marijuana being carried by ultralight aircraft weighing several hundred or a thousand pounds,” Nogales Detective Robert Ferros told CNN.
The marijuana bundle crashed through the garage roof in the middle of the night, and was found the following morning. The family reportedly never heard an aircraft, only the sudden bang of the weed rocketing through the roof — a noise they thought was just thunder.
In a related development, a drone also recently crashed into the fence of Walton Prison in England, United Kingdom. Further investigation and there were nine attempts to use drones to Infiltrate prisons in England and Wales between January and May 2015.
Analysts are of the view that the increasing use, commercialization and penetration of drones is an "emerging threat" which will increase as drones become increasingly cheaper and easier to operate.