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How smuggling gangs use drones to deliver drugs across the border


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Drones used to be fancy gadgets for hobbyists or secret weapons for the military. But now they have a new job: delivering drugs. Yes, you heard that right. 

While El Pollo Loco is using drones to bring you chicken dinners, some bad guys are using them to smuggle drugs across borders.

Drug lords, cartels and other deviant organizations have been maximizing the benefits of drones to carry out their illegal drug runs. 

With many borders of hot zones being heavily watched and reinforced, drones are accomplishing what their human counterparts no longer can. Drones have essentially become the new drug mule.

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Drug smuggling is a lucrative and risky business. Smugglers have to evade border patrols, customs agents, police officers, and rival gangs. That’s why some smugglers have turned to drones as a new way of moving drugs.

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Drones are cheap, easy to acquire, and hard to detect. They can fly over fences, walls, and checkpoints, and drop drugs at precise locations. They can also avoid human contact, reducing the chances of being caught or betrayed.

Drones are being used to smuggle drugs in various regions of the world, such as:

North America: Drones sent by Mexican cartels carrying drugs such as cocaine, meth, and heroin regularly cross the U.S. border. The DEA also warned that drones could be used to deliver fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and can be lethal in small doses.

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South Asia: Recently, border officials in the Punjab region of India revealed they intercepted 107 drug-carrying drones sent by smuggling gangs over the border from Pakistan, the highest number on record. Most were carrying heroin from Pakistan to be dropped and received by collaborators in the Punjab, notorious for having India’s worst levels of opioid addiction.

Middle East: The Jordanian air force shot down a drug-laden drone carrying crystal meth coming from Syria. Drug smugglers from Syria, the world’s largest producer of the black market amphetamine pill, Captagon, often use Jordan as a transit point to the wider Gulf Arab kingdoms and the global market. Syrian smugglers have increased the use of drones to smuggle Captagon and meth due to a security clampdown at the Jordanian border, which has made trafficking by land harder.

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There are many reasons why drones are being utilized by drug dealers. Here are the top seven contributors:

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Not only are drones being utilized for transporting illegal drugs, but drones are also being used to smuggle contraband items such as cell phones into prisons, too. The number of drone-related illegal activities has skyrocketed. 75% of intercepted illegal goods to prisons in Canada were delivered by drones. In the U.K., the government began to enforce a no-fly zone around all their prisons in October 2023 due to an exponential increase in contrabands by drones.

Globally, local law enforcement officials have begun to employ drones themselves. Officials in the U.K. have used heat-seeking drones to locate cannabis farms. This technology has proven to be effective in detecting illegal activities and reducing crime rates in the country.

It isn’t just nefarious entities that are innovating with the use of drones. Legitimate businesses such as drugstores and pharmacies are aiming to deliver prescriptions by drone in the U.S. and possibly the U.K. It looks like El Pollo Loco was ahead of the game.

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As drones become more advanced and widespread, the challenges and opportunities of drone drug smuggling will also evolve and require constant adaptation and innovation from law enforcement. Drug smuggling is now in the air, and we need to tackle it head-on by developing effective counter-drone strategies and technologies.

How do you think governments and law enforcement agencies should respond to the growing threat of drug-carrying drones? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

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