Can drones be used to smuggle drugs?
Photo DB. Source: Wikipedia
It sure looks like it. In 2015 guards rushed to break up a mob in an Ohio prison yard. When they reviewed a security tape, they saw that a drone had flown in and dropped a package containing tobacco, pot, and heroin, which the inmates were fighting over. Increasingly, drones are smuggling drugs, mobile phones, and even weapons into prisons at an alarming rate. Authorities are trying to respond, but this takes time. Prisons haven’t been built with security cameras looking up.
Using drones to smuggle drugs and other contraband is incredibly lucrative. Online cameras and improved navigation and control mean that the drones don’t have to just drop off their goods for whoever gets there first. They can fly right to an inmate’s window. The prisoners then reach out and grab the drone, pull it inside to take the contents, and toss the vehicle back outside in about 30 seconds. One prisoner referred it as Chinese take-out.
A British prison has installed a series of disruptors around its perimeter that jam the control and feedback signals. The system works against traditional operator-run drones, but won’t stop autonomous systems that aren’t radio controlled. And, of course, they won’t stop a tennis ball filled with drugs that’s throw or launched over the prison wall.
Tom Mix. Source: Bundesarchiv
There’s a continual black hat/white hat struggle with technology, where the tools that help us become more productive can also be abused by criminals and creeps. The problem isn’t the tech – it’s the folks who misuse it. Ever since the archer Pandarus shot an iron-tipped arrow to break up a truce during the Trojan War, new technology has been abused. But the black hats aren’t always on top. Somehow, society keeps moving forward.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA