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August 25, 2020 | Local, Aerospace, Security

Drone drops of drugs and weapons are getting more common at Ontario prisons

Flying a drone to drop drugs and weapons inside a prison seems like something out of an action movie — yet it happened this month near Toronto and in the last few years, the problem continues to get worse.

Warkworth Institution, a medium-security prison about two hours east of Toronto, found drugs, tattoo paraphernalia, handmade weapons and drug paraphernalia in a search of the facility, which ended on Aug. 21. The items were thought to have been brought in via a drone.

This isn't the first time contraband items have entered Canadian corrections facilities. Drones dropped weapons and phones in a Kingston prison earlier this year. In June four people were arrested in a drone plot to smuggle drugs and weapons into a Kingston prison.

The Canadian government has been working on solving the issue and planned to spend $6 million on a pilot drone detection program at several institutions. The project has been delayed after the contract was cancelled in January 2020, Veronique Rioux, a spokesperson for Correctional Service Canada (CSC) told blogTO in an email.

While drone sightings over Canadian correctional facilities have increased over the past several years, Rioux said they don't have a big impact on the number of drugs in correctional institutions.

“The use of drones as a method to introduce drugs into correctional institutions is one of many methods used by drug traffickers in an attempt to circumvent CSC's drug interdiction efforts,” she said.

For security purposes, Rioux said she cannot say how many items are smuggled through drones or how the drones are used.

But they are working to stop contraband items from entering through searches of offenders, visitors, staff, cells, vehicles, buildings and cells with ion scanners and detector dogs.

“CSC continues to research and introduce new technology as it becomes available to better facilitate the detection of contraband, including drone detection,” Rioux said.

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