A very retro means of smuggling cannabis to inmates was attempted at a Peruvian prison last month — a carrier pigeon. Security officers spotted the bird outside the administrative office of the Huancayo Penitentiary, trying to drink some water from the puddle. One eagle-eyed officer immediately noticed a circular package tied around its neck.
Inside the package was about 30 grams of cannabis — seeds, stems and leaves. Had the delivery bird not stopped for water, it would have made it to its final destination, Cellblock D, where a prisoner had been reported feeding a pigeon. It’s suspected that a relative of the inmate had brought the pigeon to the area. Colonel Eduan Díaz of the Peruvian National Police calls this a “new modality to enter prison under drugs.”
Recreational cannabis remains illegal in Peru, and medicinal cannabis is permitted only through state-run programs and facilities. Happily, rather than being put behind bars, the pigeon has been sent to an animal shelter to help it “resocialize.”
Of course, in the United States, drones remain the preferred vehicle to deliver cannabis — as well as phones, weapons and money — to prison inmates. In many states, it’s a growing problem; for example, South Carolina is vexed by nighttime drone intrusion attempts on a weekly basis at its Lee Corrections Institution. Over the past year, Lee County police have arrested nearly two dozen people and seized more than a dozen drones.
Where else? Recently, drone deliveries of cannabis were uncovered at Wasco State Prison in Bakersfield, California. And multiple drone drops were uncovered — with the conspirators subsequently pleading guilty in court — at Fort Dix Federal Prison in New Jersey.
Yet many drone delivery attempts flat out fail. Last month, a suspicious package was reported on the grounds of a Virginia school. It contained several pounds of cannabis and three cell phones, and was apparently intended for the neighboring Lawrenceville Correctional Center. Also, two men in Mississippi trying to deliver 57 grams of cannabis into the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility were caught when their drone got caught in the facility’s security nets and officials used the drone’s data to identify the suspects. Lastly, a delivery apparently intended for Ohio’s Mansfield Correctional Institute failed when the drone crashed into a Mansfield home, spilling its bags on cannabis and two cell phones. The county sheriff is holding on to the drone and inviting the owner to “come to the sheriff’s office and claim it.”