California Couple Arrested for Dealing Drugs via Drone

This Southern California couple employed a particularly interesting methodology to their operation.

Sander de Wilde/Corbis via Getty Images

Every few weeks, someone gets arrested for smuggling drugs via drone. The unmanned aerial vehicle is a tool like any other, and while the drone community is finding creative, practical ways to use them; checking for danger before sending people into harm’s way, looking for sharks at popular surf spots, actually surfing with the help of a drone, there are also people utilizing the UAV for nefarious purposes. This time, that illegal purpose was delivering drugs to a parking lot, and the persons arrested were a Southern California couple.

According to Time, Benjamin Baldassarre and Ashley Carroll of Riverside, California were using a drone to deliver drugs to their clientele, awaiting delivery at a parking lot. The couple was charged with possession of controlled substances for sale, as well as child endangerment Tuesday. 

Reportedly, the way Baldassarre and Carroll conducted their business was fairly creative, and aimed to put some distance between the source of the contraband and the client. Of course, it didn’t quite turn out how they had hoped, but for a while there, things presumably ran smoothly. Once the drone would deliver the drugs to the customer waiting in a parking lot, the customer would drive to the couple’s house and toss the money onto the front yard. 

We’ve reported on drug delivery via drone plenty of times, but this is actually the first instance where any sort of legal thought went into the process (well, precluding the consideration that all of this is entirely illegal). Usually, these stories simply involve someone piloting a UAV into a prison yard and letting the inmates take the drugs off the drone, or someone flying the drone over a border. With Baldassarre and Carroll’s strategy, ideally there would be reasonable doubt as to who the drone belonged to, why money was thrown onto their lawn, and all without the couple actually being face to face with their customers. 

Ultimately, they were caught anyway. Reportedly, the child endangerment charges stem from the police finding syringes and drugs that are possibly methamphetamine, LSD, and powdered fentanyl all while Baldessarre’s 9-year old daughter lived under the same roof. She has since been returned to her mother, while Baldassarre and Carroll deal with their convictions.