A pigeon found in a Canadian prison yard with a tiny backpack filled with meth is carrying on a decades-long tradition of avian drug smuggling.
The pigeon was captured at the Pacific Institution in Abbotsford, British Columbia, in late December, according to the CBC.
John Randle, Pacific regional president of the Union for Canadian Correctional Officers, told the CBC the bird was in an inmate yard when officers on site noticed it had a tiny package on its back; that package contained 30 grams of meth.
"They had to corner it," Randle said. "You can imagine how that would look, trying to catch a pigeon." He said they captured the bird after “a lengthy period of time," seized the drugs, and set it free.
Corrections Canada is investigating the incident, according to media reports.
While prison staff, visitors, mail, and drones are more commonly used to get contraband into jail, pigeons also have a long history of transporting drugs—and also wearing tiny backpacks, apparently.
A New York Times article from Feb 2, 1930, noted that pigeons with capsules of drugs like cocaine tied to their legs were plaguing the southern border. Being surrounded by pigeons is undesirable at the best of times, even more so when they’re participating in the drug trade.
The Times reported that smugglers were raising their own homing pigeons, a breed that can travel great distances and still return to their home lofts. Pigeons can fly up to 700 miles a day, according to the Pigeon Control Resource Center.
In 2017, a homing pigeon carrying 178 pills from Iraq to Kuwait in yes, another backpack, was trapped by Kuwaiti officials near customs, according to the publication Al Arabiya. Conflicting news reports from the time said the pills were either ketamine or ecstasy.
And lest we forget, “Narco Paloma,” a pigeon busted smuggling weed and cocaine into La Reforma, a maximum security prison in Costa Rica in 2015, and then turned into a meme. The bird was turned over to a rehab center afterward—the kind for animals.
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