Drones Have Delivered Drugs, Phones, and Porn to Federal Prisons

With companies like Amazon, UPS, and Dominos advancing the drone-delivery industry, civilians are now following that lead... but apparently with bad intent.

Delivery drone with the cardboard box.
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Drones have been used for the illegal transportation of contraband such as phones, drugs, and porn into numerous federal prisons across the United States over the past 5 years, according to information recovered through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by USAToday. The nifty little UAVs were also used for similar purposes at state holding facilities, according to the report. 

An inmate at a high-security federal prison in Victorville, California got a friend to deliver two cell phones to the facility via drone in March 2015, according to the FOIA files. It went smoothly—at least for the smuggler and inmate—with the incident only coming to light months later. But this isn't just a one-off act of illegal smuggling with the aid of a hobby drone. This has happened in numerous cities across America. Oakdale, Louisiana, Seagoville, Texas, Atwater, California, and Cumberland, Maryland. And though cell phones may be somewhat harmless, drones are also being used to smuggle drugs in and out of prison. 

A former inmate and two of his friends were convicted after they brought drugs and porn into the Maryland Western Correctional Institution with the help of a drone, according to USAToday. And apparently, the convicts made $6,000 per drone trip. 

"The threat posed by drones to introduce contraband into prison and for other means is increasing," said Bureau of Prisons spokesman Justin Long, according to USAToday

We've reported on some pretty impressive anti-drone technologies before, which the lawmakers and advocates in question could benefit from. On the other hand, they could simply look at solutions from other prisons who faced the same problem. According to USAToday's correctional facility expert Donald Leach, the UK has at least one prison that has the ability to "deflect" drones that fly over its property using sensors to overload the device.