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Drones Used To Smuggle Drugs Into Prison 137

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the prisons-upgraded-with-anti-drone-missles dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Over the weekend, a 28-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of using a small quadcopter drone to smuggle an unknown quantity of illegal drugs into a prison in Melbourne, Australia. While it's certainly not the first time small-fry UAV technology has been used by a mid-level mule to airmail drugs into the clink, it does suggest a growing trend in the highest-tech of prison highs. Here, then, is a brief history of drone-assisted prison drug smuggling In November 2013, guards at Hull jail in Gatineau, Canada, spotted a small drone flying over the prison's walls [beware the autoplaying videos]. An exhaustive search of both Hull's grounds and the immediate vicinity turned up nothing by way of whatever contraband the drone might have been toting around.

Nevertheless, it didn't appear to be one-off incident 'This sort of thing happens often in prisons all across Quebec,' Stephane Lemaire, president of Quebec's correctional officers' union, told the Ottawa Sun. 'Usually the drones are carrying small packages of drugs or other illicit substances.' The problem, Lemaire added, is that 'the drone can be controlled from more than a kilometer away, and the [Hull] prison is surrounded by forest.'"
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Drones Used To Smuggle Drugs Into Prison

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  • by arcade (16638) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @03:18AM (#46452771) Homepage

    This is quite an interesting idea. DYI drones are getting more and more common - and there are plenty of people with electronics background who can make the control interface.

    Make the commands sent to the drone be sent encrypted/signed - allowing automatic handoffs between controlling terminals.

    It would be pretty easy to make drones do the 'chore' of crossing international borders for you. Just put out a couple of 'base stations' that are quiet unless the drone is coming by .. and which directs the drone when it is close.

    I'm wondering how well prepared border control / custom agents are for taking down fast moving drones that sweep in pretty low.

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @03:24AM (#46452789)
    Personally I am shocked that throwing drugs to a few people in cages is the only crime a drone has committed. It strikes me that a crime committed by a drone has the huge advantage of being low risk as compared to committing those same crimes in person. Arson, terrorism, bank robberies, break and enters, murder, and why not go whole hog and even go petty thuggery and do some muggings?

    Most of our existing justice system is based upon game theory. The idea is to dissuade criminals from doing their various crimes by causing them to balance the benefits of a successful heist against the penalties when they are caught. A simple example would be that bank robberies are very easy and generally net a fair amount of cash; and if done properly should be fairly low risk. So the idea is that you make the penalties huge with the hope that regular bank robbers will eventually slip up and then face a monster penalty. So even the average sociopath will think twice before saying, "stick'em up". But if you can reduce that risk to something resembling zero then your average intelligent sociopath should be out there causing all kinds of criminal mayhem.

    I am willing to bet that before 2020 that we will see some very interesting crimes committed by drones, I am not talking crime of the century (although that is possible) but something where the drone was put to a very innovative use.

    While what I am suggesting will be fun to read about; I am much more scared of the terroristic possibilities; again right now the only people who do the game theory on terrorism and think that the benefits outweigh the risks are either very stupid or very fanatical; these are circumstances that have generally kept terrorism as a fairly infrequent event. But again if you are changing the math so that being caught is no longer a near certainty then drone terrorism may very well become attractive to a slightly greater number of fruitcakes. I don't think there will be a tsunami of attacks but I am willing to bet that you will see a multiple of 2 or 3 times the number of serious attacks in normally stable countries.

    But the sad part is that for the most part this type of technology will probably catch the public imagination and there will be all kinds of restrictions put on drone technology. The reality is that it will simply be another tool used by criminals and terrorists as the shoes they wear or the cellphones they call with.
  • by KingOfBLASH (620432) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @03:39AM (#46452819) Journal

    I'm wondering how well prepared border control / custom agents are for taking down fast moving drones that sweep in pretty low.,

    You're basically describing skeet shooting right there.

    And it's not physically possible to set up a human skeet shooter every hundred meters on the entire bloody border. Expect this to lead to some sort of arms race whereby we start allowing automated skeet shooting, anti-drone drones, or something else entirely that is just as scary.

    Or we could just stop the whole waste of money that is the war on drugs. But that would be dumb.

  • Re:LOS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rich0 (548339) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @05:47AM (#46453093) Homepage

    Eh kinda hard to get line of sight to a drone through a forest. Maybe they should be looking for the guy clingling grimly to the tops of the trees?

    The only people who think that you need line of sight to operate a drone are busy working for the FAA.

    You don't really even need to be anywhere nearby to operate the things - just program it to wake up at 3AM and fly a GPS route long after you've placed it at the launch point. If the value of the delivery is high enough you won't even have to go recover it. Or you could wait at the recovery point which need not be anywhere near where it launched from.

  • by swb (14022) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @08:02AM (#46453501)

    I wonder what prisons would be like if they actually went ahead and sold drugs to inmates?

    They'd badly damage the smuggling trade which is what drives much prison gang behavior. Buying drugs would provide a behavior incentive for inmates since they'd have to do their prison job to earn commissary money to pay for them as well as display good behavior to get them.

    You could hand out only pills and control doses to make them too small to split or easily overdose as well as requiring they be taken at the point of distribution. Inmates buying them would be drug tested to make sure they took them, anyone failing the test (and thus presumably selling them) would lose buying privileges.

    Besides the reward component, perhaps prisoners would be less violent if they were getting high.

    Most of the anti-drug messages for broader society wouldn't apply, ie, no children, no driving.

    I'm surprised that drugging inmates period hasn't ever been tried, even in countries where there are no rules they seem to prefer much more difficult violence and intimidation.

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @12:02PM (#46455085)
    Exactly, my fear is an overreaction when one finally does.

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