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Drones as a drug-smuggling tool?

by Pierce Lancaster
Drones as a drug-smuggling tool

Drones as a drug-smuggling toolPhoto by Michael MK Khor / CC BY 2.0

Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles have serves a lot of purposes. They have fought alongside soldiers in the battlefield from the start of 1900s and now serve as civilians in the field of aerial photography and videography. Photographers of all kinds, professionals and novices alike use drones to capture striking photos and videos from above the air. And now the greatest news hit that these tools are being used – such as drones as a drug-smuggling tool.

Movies, where you see those nature shots and above the air shots are all taken by various kinds of drones. These unmanned aerial vehicles have been the eagle in the world of photography and live streaming.

But apparently drones have been used for another purpose as well; drug trafficking. Recently alongside the United States of America and Mexico border. The United States of America has a new problem on their hands now, getting the drones to stop coming and going out of the border with strapped heroine. Twenty eight pounds of heroin flew up in the air and landed on the United States soil.

Over the years, border security has been tightened so that no man or no such entity can be smuggled along. Drug traffickers and gangs have thought of everything and every way possible, be it under the fences, over the fences and even through the border and have come up with this unique way. No such incident has been previously reported or seen where drones were involved in heroin smuggling.

Apart from the drones, the US officials even found jet skis, Cessna, tunnels. It looks like the drug traffickers are now also getting technological advanced, and are now incorporating scientific and technology in their missions.

In the case of the heroin smuggling, two men came forward and in a plea deal pleaded guilty. They admitted that were involved in retrieving drugs near the Route 98 in Imperial County. This pickup was captured by the cameras of Border Patrol on the 28th of April. Both the offenders are teenagers of 18 and 19 years. Jonathan Elias and Brayan Valle admitted their crime and will be charged with sentences of twenty years each on the 20th of October of this year.

The questions which comes into mind is that why this method was chosen, since it seems to be not that profitable. The drone can only carry a restricted amount of heroin without falling which decreases the supply that is catered.

The spokesman for United States of America homeland security said that they have been getting tips that the drug traffickers might be considering this methodology of handling and trading drugs. But what the security personnel also found was that the gangs and drug traffickers were just test running this tactic, they were trying out their hand whether or not if it will work. It was in an experimental stage and didn’t seem very successful or lucrative.

In addition to the news, this headline came approximately four years after the authorities saw an unusual happening in the sky. They saw that some kind of ultralight lightening making to and fro dashes across the Californian Imperial Valley. These ultra-lights were very successfully dropping packages or marijuana. This method and approach became famous instantly and consumers and users.

This method became more and more used along the border and is spreading along. What’s common between ultra-lights and drones is that they both are very limited and restricted in terms of how many grams and packages they can carry of either drug. No matter the drug being used, authorities are now on high alert and are paying more attention to what is more common and popular with the consumers. This would further help them in capturing any means and people that are involved in the business.

Alongside the United States of America, Mexico is also adamant that they are going to wipe away any smuggler or any activity that will pose any threat to both the countries. The spokesman for the Mexico side of security said the possibility of drones as a means of smuggling drugs is an emerging threat but he also said that they were fortunate that this wasn’t a very successful endeavor and were lucky they can stop it in the initial stages.

The drone carrying drugs wasn’t the first. In January, a drone which had about 7 pounds of drugs which were transporting drugs from one neighborhood to another. The drone couldn’t carry the weight and crashed in the parking of a neighborhood supermarket. At that time, the authorities said that it is the first one but little did they know that there will be another incident. Months later, the Border Patrol camera operators saw an unusual sight.

They saw a person walking in a field near Calexico who had a really large object. Then the person of interest waved down a vehicle, threw the large object in a vehicle and in a trunk and the person climbed in the passenger seat and drive away. This was all according to a complaint that was registered with the authorities.

Agents because of this complaint stopped the vehicle along with the person and saw that duffel bags were in the car which were full of substance. After testing the substance, it came out positive for heroin. Both the suspects, as mentioned above pleaded guilty to facilitating and getting the drugs. The driver, Jonathan Elias said that he had known the passenger for a month, the passenger Brayan Valle, he had asked him to pick up the drugs for just one hundred dollars. The passenger also said that he also picked up the drone as well.

Although small drones are available readily, they cannot carry a lot of load with them, it is rumored that the gangs and cartels are trying to hire engineers to make custom made drones which would further facilitate them.

Drones have been used for drug trafficking in other countries and prisons as well. Australia and Brazil, both have seen such events take place.

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