Game of Drones: Finnish Prisons Struggle to Stop Drug-Smuggling Drones
While lauded for their ability to assist the police and armed forces, drones are increasingly being used to smuggle drugs into Finnish prisons. Although the technology that could stop errant drones already exists in the Nordic country, Finland's current legislation specifically forbids its use, exacerbating the problem. In recent years, drones have become increasingly accessible to consumers. While frequently used for an array of purposes ranging from goods delivery to traffic monitoring, drones have also become a useful smuggling device, Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported.
Earlier this year, Finnish prison guards witnessed an unmanned aerial vehicle landing in the inner yard. Attached to the drone with a barely visible fishing line was a sock. Inside it was a mobile phone with a battery, as well as a copious amount of Subutex brand opioid buprenorphine tablets. While this 'special delivery' was doubtlessly intended for an inmate, it was intercepted by prison staff. The smuggling drone turned out to be programmed to return to the starting point about a kilometer from the site. The drone's operator was never caught. Drone-propelled smuggling seems to be a low-risk undertaking, since unmanned vehicles can be controlled remotely from afar and programmed for automatic return. Even small drones have a carrying capacity of several kilograms, which is more than sufficient to transfer illegal items such as handguns or drugs. This is what makes "drone delivery" extra lucrative for bootleggers, the police estimated the street value of Subutex at around €12 a pill, yet pointed out that it may become ten times as high in prison.
A much simpler solution is to use existing anti-drone hardware that traces down radio signals all drones emit to eventually control them and force them to the ground. At present, however, these measures are not permitted as Finnish law only allowed for the UAVs to be located.