Drones are the new butts.
Investigating a blinking light, guards at the Lee Correctional Institute in Bishopville, South Carolina found a dropped package containing the bare necessities: weed, tobacco, and cell phones. They also discovered, outside the prison in the surrounding forest, a pretty groovy campground consisting of a remote controller for the drone, recreational drugs, and one bottle of grape-flavored Gatorade, as reported by The New York Times.
The idea, according to local prison officials, was to fly a series of small runs over the fence. “It was a delivery system,” director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections Bryan P. Stirling told the Times. “They would put it on there, they would deliver it, someone inside would get it somehow, and they would send it back out and send more in.”
At least three other drone smuggling operations have been discovered in the U.S. and four more reported in Australia, Britain, Canada, and Ireland over the last two years.
A drone was discovered on the grounds of a Bennetsville, South Carolina prison last January carrying 55 grams of synthetic marijuana. If you’re going to go through the trouble of flying a drone into a prison, it seems like you’d want genuine cannabis instead of the fake shit that puts you in a hospital when you smoke it, but synthetic weed has caught on big in the UK prison system and might be doing the same stateside.
But what authorities are most concerned with, more than weed or not-weed or tobacco, are cellphones. They allow prisoners to communicate secretly to each other and contacts on the outside. Cell phones were also utilized in a prison riot and hostage situation in Bishopville last February. “These cellphones are killing us,” said Cecilia Reynolds, warden of the Lee Correctional Institute
But prison officials still don’t have any way to consistently stop drone deliveries. Beside those three reported incidents of drone smuggling in the last two years, it’s a good bet that there were a whole lot of successful ones. The best bet right now might be “geofencing” software that doesn’t allow drones to operate in specific areas. But that has yet to be implemented.
“It’s almost like we need an Iron Dome like Israel has to stop it,” Stirling said, speaking of the rocket defense system built by Israel at a cost of billions of dollars. “But they have a robust defense budget,” he added.