Drones have been used in more than a dozen smuggling attempts to prisons

prisoners drone smuggling doj news 70289782  with white gift box on blue sky 3d illustration
Sarawuth702/123RF
One kid’s toy is another man’s drug mule. Over the last five years, prisoners have tried to smuggle illegal contraband into prisons more than a dozen times, according to documents USA Today obtained from the Department of Justice.

Porn, cell phones, tobacco, and drugs are among the items people have tried to sneak into prison since 2012. That was the same year Congress began opening up the skies for hobbyist drones by passing a bill allowing them to fly over U.S. territories. The bill also made it easier for average people to get licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly drones. When you let almost anyone fly drones, almost anything can happen.

Contraband smuggling may not have been Congress’ intention when it passed the bill, but prisoners have been taking advantage, no matter how secure the prison is. According to the DOJ’s documents, an inmate at the United States Penitentiary in Victorville, California was able to get someone to smuggle two cell phones into the high-security prison using a drone in March 2015. The officials at the jail did not know it happened for five months.

The documents also reveal how a released prisoner and two other people used a drone to smuggle drugs and porn into Maryland’s Western Correctional Institution. The trio performed numerous nighttime sessions and made $6,000 per drop off. The three were eventually convicted of their crimes.

There have been efforts at thwarting drones that may border on science fiction. In May, a British prison installed a 2,000-foot high “drone shield” called Sky Fence, designed to detect and block drones that fly close to the prison’s perimeter. It does this by incorporating numerous signal disruptors placed around and on the prison grounds, and jamming the signal between the drone and the pilot when it detects one approaching.

Keep a look out in the sky. You never know where that drone may be headed.

Emerging Tech

Hikers missing on Mount Fuji could soon find a drone buzzing above their heads

Hikers who go missing while climbing Japan's highest mountain could soon find a drone buzzing above their head. A new system using the flying machines has been set up on Mount Fuji for future search-and-rescue missions.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

Stronger than steel, thinner than paper, graphene could be the future of tech

Since its discovery, graphene has set the research world on fire. What exactly is it, though, and what could it mean for the future of tech? Here's everything you need to know about what could be the next supermaterial to take center stage.
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Cars

The world’s first 3D-printed titanium wheels are so intricate they look fake

HRE Performance Wheels and GE Additive have teamed up to create the world's first 3D-printed titanium wheels. They are not only impressively durable, but extremely lightweight as well.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Emerging Tech

This startup will sequence your entire genome for free — but there’s a catch

Want to get your DNA sequenced but don’t want to shell out the hundred bucks or so to do so? A new startup called Nebula Genomics offers you the opportunity to have it done for free.
Emerging Tech

DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs Mavic 2 Zoom: What’s the real difference?

DJI's Mavic 2 series drones are ready to fly -- but which one is right for you? The Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are nearly identical save for their cameras. Here's what you need to know about these powerful new UAVs.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best tech gear and gadgetry that survived Shark Tank

The television show "Shark Tank" has churned out quite a few strange, interesting, and downright awesome products -- so we rounded up some of the best ones for your perusal. Enjoy!
Emerging Tech

Students who designed transforming smart home will compete in Solar Decathalon

Modular smart homes are all the rage, and now some students from Virginia Tech are putting their money on their FutureHAUS, a modular, solar-powered, transforming smart home they're taking to the Solar Decathlon in Dubai.
Emerging Tech

Hotter than the sun: Chinese fusion reactor claims breakthrough

China’s “artificial sun” has reached a temperature of 180 million ºF with a heating power of 10 megawatts -- six times hotter than the center of the sun. The achievement could mark progress towards fusion as a clean energy source.
Emerging Tech

Hope it doesn’t melt! Rocket to ISS carries vital supplies — including ice cream

A rocket has launched over Virginia's eastern shore, carrying supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). Inside the spacecraft are supplies for the ISS itself and the crew onboard, such as scientific equipment and food.
Emerging Tech

‘Super-Earth’ discovered orbiting nearby star

Astronomers have discovered a large planet circling a sun nearby to Earth called Barnard's Star. The potential new planet is thought to be cold and icy and has a size of around 3.2 times the Earth.
Emerging Tech

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully tests its asteroid-sampling arm

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, launched in September 2016, is closing in on its target of the Bennu asteroid. The craft has now unfurled its robotic arm, called the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM), and tested it successfully.