Pubdate: Sun, 28 Aug 2016
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2016 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Note: Seldom prints LTEs from outside it's circulation area.


LONDON - While Amazon and the British government are looking into how 
to use drones to deliver parcels to customers, criminals are already 
exploiting the technology to send drugs to accomplices in prison.

Police on Monday said they recovered two drones carrying mobile 
phones and drugs near London's Pentonville prison and have set up a 
special task force - Operation Airborne - to catch offenders trying 
to get contraband into the jail.

In the early hours of Aug. 17, police saw a man acting suspiciously 
near the prison. He ran away, dropping two bags containing drugs and 
mobile phones and managed to evade arrest, according to a police statement.

The next day, police found a drone that had crashed after being 
tracked flying over Pentonville.

They were later alerted to another drone being flown at low altitude 
toward the prison.

The unmanned aircraft was stopped mid-flight by a police officer, and 
a package containing large amounts of drugs and two mobile phones was 
recovered from it.

Appealing for witnesses, Detective Chief Inspector Steve Heatley 
said: "These recovered drones carried a substantial amount of Class B 
drugs, legal highs and a large quantity of mobile phones."

Last month, Amazon announced a partnership with the British 
government "to explore the steps needed to make the delivery of 
parcels by small drones a reality, allowing Amazon to trial new 
methods of testing its delivery systems."

But while the U.S. giant is looking into how to use drones safely and 
reliably, criminals are pushing ahead with the technology.

British media reported in February that there were more than 30 
incidents last year in which drones were found in or around prisons 
and items such as drugs, phones and USB drives recovered.

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