Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Criminals are quickly finding ways to use drones to carry out crazy, sophisticated, and often successful, crimes. With few statutes regulating drones, criminals are currently one step ahead of the law, limited only by their creativity and nerve, for now.
Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and Drones
Drug smuggling is no longer limited to people using planes, trains, and automobiles to transport packages across the country, or the border. Commercially available drones can carry up to 22 kilos, equivalent to 44 pounds. Let’s do a little Criminal Math. Each kilo of cocaine, also known as a “brick”, has a street value in the U.S. of about $30,000. Given that a brick can be purchased in Colombia for $1,800, the profit in “flipping bricks” is definitely worth buying a few high-end drones.
Criminals have been actively smuggling all sorts of drugs, such as cannabis, methamphetamine, and heroin, using drones. Easy to fly and hard to spot, these are quickly becoming the transportation vehicle of choice. Gone are the days where drones are used solely to drop a dime bag of bud to a customer here or there, like a pizza delivery service. Smuggling drugs into into a country or into a jail is quickly becoming a sophisticated, and hard to catch, crime.
The Spy Who Droned Me, or Is It the Drone Who Spied Me?
Drug Smuggling isn’t the only crime being committed with drones. Gone are the days where Peeping Toms were the only drone-wielding voyeurs. Today’s criminals are using drones to spy on just about everything, including:
- PIN numbers at ATM’s
- Police surveillance, and even trying to flush police out of their surveillance locations
- Security gaps in furtherance of committing a robbery
- The comings and goings of informants with police
Drones are currently regulated by federal and state laws, but evidently these are insufficient. Congress and local law enforcement officials are working on ways to regulate drones to limit their use in criminal activity, primarily by positively linking them to their owners or operators through remote ID.
Another means is by criminalizing the “use of drones as a weapon.” If all else fails, the government could choose to use drone-jamming equipment, which when used correctly, can easily capture the drone from a mile away, and thereby be able to use the drone as evidence against the owner/operator. But until such regulations are put into effect, it appears the criminals are winning the Drone Wars.
- Federal Drone Registration Regulations (FindLaw Learn About the Law)
- No Drones for Marijuana Deliveries, Says Bureau of Cannabis Control (FindLaw’s Technologist Blog)
- Flying a Drone: Legally, What Can Happen? (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life Blog)