Smugglers Using Drones To Fly Drugs Across Mexican Border

Scott Cook Contributor
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A drone carrying illegal drugs crashed near the U.S.-Mexico border last week.

The unmanned quadcopter was discovered by authorities near the border town of San Ysidro, Calif., after an anonymous source called in the suspicious craft, BBC News reports.

According to Tijuana police, the drone was carrying more than six pounds of methamphetamine. Mexican police believe that the drone crashed due to the weight of the narcotics on board.

This drug drone is an example of how smugglers have been using technology to their advantage.

According to BBC News, last year the DEA said that drug drones were becoming so popular that cartels started manufacturing their own, which could carry more weight than those that are commercially available. DEA figures suggest that these types of drones are making over 150 drug runs per year.

Other innovative ways to transport drugs across the border seen in recent years include catapults, ultra-light aircrafts and tunnels.

For larger quantities, smugglers tend to take to the ocean. Cargo ships, fishing boats, cigarette boats and even submarines are commonly used to export drugs from South America into the U.S., this according to Javier Guerrero of The Conversation.

Cargo ships and fishing boats allow smugglers more content space with less risk, as the cargo is usually unescorted. According to Colombia Reports, Colombian authorities seized seven tons of cocaine from a cargo container carrying pineapples in 2014.

Cigarette boats were commonly used in the 1990s because their high speeds allowed them to go unnoticed on coast guard radars. They are still used today but far less frequently, as radar technology has greatly improved heightening the risk of being caught.

The most impressive innovation however, is the narco-sub. Narco-subs are submersible and semi-submersible boats built by cartels. They secretly transport drug stashes across international borders.

Impressively, in recent years many narco-subs have been engineered to be towed or remote controlled. This means that no one has to be onboard. When a sub gets caught, it leaves authorities scratching their heads trying to figure out where it came from.

Enforcement agencies have made sizable efforts to counter these drug smuggling innovations, but it seems that cartels are always one step ahead. It is no surprise that smugglers have transitioned to drone use.

It will be interesting to see what other new technological methods smugglers start to use in the years ahead.