Delivery drones are the new thing – for drug pushers too. A “meth drone,” completely overloaded with its three-kilo cargo of crystal meth, fell out of the sky onto a parking lot near the U.S. and Mexico borders. Police said the drone “could not sustain” its weight, and dropped down a few hundred yards from the California border Tuesday night.
Writes The Associated Press on Jan. 22, via Fox News: “Six packets of the drug, weighing more than six pounds, were taped to the six-propeller remote-controlled aircraft. [Tijuana police spokesperson Jorge] Morrua said authorities are investigating where the flight originated and who was controlling it. He said it was not the first time they had seen drones used for smuggling drugs across the border.”
The drone was called in, via an anonymous tip, as being down near the San Ysidro Border Crossing, approximately 15 miles from downtown San Diego. The remote-controlled drone had a six-pound haul taped to its body in a plastic webbing. Officials said they are not sure if the drone was transporting the meth to another Mexico neighborhood, or if it was attempting to cross into the U.S. The street price of the meth was estimated at $1,500.
“We would not call using drones a new trend in smuggling,” DEA spokesman Amy Roderick said. “This method will only allow a small amount of drugs to be flown at a time and, coupled with the ease of detection, does not make this method very profitable to these drug trafficking organizations.”
The business of drug delivery has taken on every imaginable medium in order to dupe border patrols. From drug tunnels to stomachs lined with coke-filled condoms, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that in Fiscal Year 2014, the agency halted over 183,000 pounds of drugs from entering the United States via California alone. That figure represented over 45,000 apprehensions and close to $13 million in drug money. At all U.S. border entry points, in FY 2014 the agency seized 2.3 million pounds of drugs worth over $25 million.
Border authorities said that they have seen an uptick in the use of drones to smuggle drugs. Since 2012, the agency estimates that they have caught 150 drones being used as drug mules, as it were. The technology on drones is becoming more sophisticated; while they might be easy to spot now, that may not always prove to be so.
“This is a potentially new threat if it became used in a widespread way,” commented University of San Diego professor David Shirk, an expert on border politics. “If it can be useful and productive, organized crime groups will find a way.”