The sudden convergence of consumer-level prices and professional-level capabilities has caused an explosion of drone usage in the last few years. Unfortunately, these devices are sometimes repurposed for nefarious endeavors, with this example being one of the most brazen yet.
Governing bodies are still trying to catch up to drone's capabilities in terms of regulations and control, and this case presents another issue they'll have to contend with: small, tough-to-detect devices smuggling illegal substances. Such was the case when Jorge Edwin Rivera was recently arrested for smuggling 13.44 pounds of methamphetamine across the US-Mexico border using a DJI Matrice 600, a high-level consumer drone. This was not the first time he moved the large quantity, however; Rivera revealed to authorities that he had done so several times this year without being caught.
Rivera was finally caught when authorities near the San Ysidro Port of Entry outside San Diego spotted the drone with the packages attached to it, then followed it to Rivera, who was a little over a mile from the border. Rivera noted he received $1,000 for smuggling the drugs, which have a street value of approximately $46,000. Though normal drone operations are usually harmless, this sort of illegal usage could factor into legislative developments in the future.