Drones; the Joy of Prisoners?

by Sarah_B on October 2, 2017 - 11:24pm

Drones; the Joy of Prisoners?

Jail always had a bad reputation on drugs. On TV shows like Orange Is the New Black, we can see that people inside prisons can still have access to drugs. It is the same in reality and might be even easier now. As you can read in this post, there will be an example in Quebec from Montreal Gazette’s article, in the United States from The New York Time’s article and in the United Kingdom from Independent’s article. Drones are mostly made to observe a view from high up but now, they can be used to do contraband into prisons.

From July 2013 to December 2016, in the province of Quebec, there has been investigation on at least 97 reports about possible sight of drones. On August 3rd, 2016, the first person was caught doing drugs delivery by drone. At the detention centre, the guards found the drone in a yard with drugs attached to it. Virgo, who is the guy that controlled the drone, was charged with possession of drugs with intent to traffic. Police searched his house and his car afterwards and found dozens of fake ID and four pipe bombs. Virgo was sent to prison for 31-month, plus the 14 months he purged on the day he was arrested. Quebec’s minister of Public Security through Access to Information requests released statistics, in 2016, shows 63 of those investigations leaded to seizing of contraband. 11 drones were found. Although 97 reports seem a small number, the problem is actually a growing one. 60 out of the 97 reported sightings appeared in 2016 only. On November 19th, a drone transporting 14 small bags of marijuana, 63 smart cards, 11 cell phones and a bottle of vodka was found. “CSC regularly reviews the use of innovative security tools to enhance its capacity to limit security incidents and prevent security breaches,” Avely Serin, who’s a senior communication adviser with CSC. “Preventing and reducing the number of contraband items and illicit substances in correctional institutions is a priority for CSC.”

In Bishopville, SC, a package was found in which contained a cell phone, tobacco and marijuana. A drone, which had crashed in a bush, was also found nearby the package localisation. The controller was also located in the woods where the night before, a guard saw a man running away. In South Carolina, it is called a “Delivery System”. In brief, it consist of sending small amounts in repeated trips by using a drone and someone inside would get it then send it back. Law enforcement and national security officials are looking for a way to enforce law in hope of stopping them. In Bennettsville, they found a drone transporting 55 grams of synthetic marijuana. “It’s a new area and we don’t know the full extent of drones’ capabilities – both good and bad – and because of that we don’t know what the gaps are in the laws and what we need to do to clarify them,” said Lisa Ellman, who works in the law firm McKenna, Long & Aldridge in Washington. South Carolina started taking more measures that consist of drones not flying in prison’s area.

In the UK, a specialist unit is trying to stop the drones from flying near jails. In recent years, there have been a growing number of incidents of this type. There was none of these in 2013, then 31 in 2014, to finally 33 in 2015. The Minister of Justice said last November that this year the number increased again. They are looking for new law enforcement on how to retrace the owner of a drone that tries to smuggle in contraband. The Government is focusing on stopping these drugs to enter to stop violence and self-harm behind bars. The most recent case of this gadget was an attempt of entering in £48,000 worth of contraband. “We are absolutely determined to tackle the illegal flow of drugs and mobile phones into our prisons and turn them into places of safety and reform,” said Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah.

In conclusion, these were only examples from three countries but it is also happening elsewhere in this world like Ireland and Australia. Officers from all around the world are seeking for law enforcement on these situations. Drugs are mostly used in a way that provides more violence in prison. There is already too much violence but now that drugs are coming in easily, the crime rates in prisons are growing. This problem needs to be more recognised and needs to have law enforcement quickly.


Cherry, Paul. “LaSalle suspect in drone drug delivery to jail to have bail hearing Friday.” Montreal Gazette, August 31st, 2017, http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/lasalle-man-arrested-in-drone-drug-delivery-to-jail-has-bail-hearing-friday.

Schmidt, Michael. “Airmail via Drones Is Vexing for Prisons.” The New York Times, April 22nd, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/23/us/drones-smuggle-contraband-over-prison-walls.html.

Smith, Hayden. “Courts crack down on drones delivering drugs to UK prisons.” Independent, April 16th, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/courts-drones-drugs-prisons-contraband-crackdown-ministry-of-justice-a7686726.html.





About the author

My name is Sarah and when I am not glued to a computer screen, I love to read books. My strengths would be that I have a lot of compassion, I got a good sense of humor and I'm kind of great at public speaking. I know 3 languages and I am pretty good with computers.