Drugs

Stop Trying to Fly Drugs Into Prisons With Drones

At least six people have tried this in Australia in the past few months. Zero have succeeded.

by Gavin Butler
31 October 2018, 1:43am

Image via Wikimedia Commons, CC licence 2.0

If drones can deliver pizza, and coffee, and bags of human blood, then you’d think they’d be able to deliver pingers and rack. As technology soars to unprecedented heights, people around the world are cooking up wild new ways to get their hands on recreational substances. Yesterday it was Silk Road; today, drones. And prison guards around Australia know exactly what's going on.

Yesterday, a man and woman were found guilty of trying to use a drone to smuggle a “dangerous drug” into a south east Queensland jail. Donald Griffin, 22, and Lorraine Cuzzu, 35, had likely envisioned that the quadcopter would simply fly over the walls of the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre and deliver their cargo to their man on the inside.

In reality, the drone was damaged mid-flight and never made the drop. Turns out that when guards see a drone floating near a prison, they get a little cagey. Earlier this year, the same facility was placed into lockdown after two similar devices were spotted "flying near or over the prison", Fairfax reported. A month earlier, four separate correctional centres around Queensland were locked down for the same reason.

A growing number of Australian prisons are now starting to invest in anti-drone technology in order to fend off any unwanted airdrops. Woodford Correctional Centre in Queensland has started trialling the use of radio waves to detect drones and track down their source, while secret security measures are being trotted out at prisons across Western Australia. Speaking to Perth Now earlier this week, WA Corrective Services Minister Fran Logan said the state government is looking at implementing “new ways to detect, track or defeat the drone threat.”

The next day, NewsCorp reported that Port Phillip Prison—a maximum security facility in Melbourne—was locked down over a drone scare, as the Victorian state government makes similar moves to clamp down on airborne drug-smuggling. One suggestion put forward by the state Opposition is to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into developing the government’s very own drone fleet: an air force of between six and 10 drones that would patrol the prison perimeters, using infrared and heat detection technology to pick up on any pesky smugglers.

In short: maybe give up on trying to fly drugs into high-security prisons. Just use drones to get them into festivals instead.