Drone Intercepted Near Maryland Prison, Plot to Smuggle Contraband

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, two men have been arrested in what authorities allege is the first known plot in Maryland to use a drone to smuggle contraband into a state prison. As described,

The suspects, who were caught outside the state prison complex near Cumberland on Saturday evening, had a drone and various contraband items – including synthetic marijuana and pornographic DVDs – in the vehicle they were in.

The ability of public safety and corrections officials to protect secure sites from drone traffic and to prevent drones from interrupting emergency response depends in part of the jurisdiction of local governments to regulate drone operations. This past legislative session, MACo advocated against legislation that preempted all ability for county governments to regulate drone use, pointing out that the FAA considered local law enforcement to be a needed partner in policing drone activity.

Unfortunately, the bill passed over MACo’s objections, with advocates stating that local regulation would deter growth of a drone industry in Maryland, and growth of the University of Maryland’s involvement with drone testing. Now a spokesman from the University is citing the potential need for a law change.

According to the Sun‘s coverage,

Matt Scassero, the head of the University of Maryland’s drone testing center, said there have already been cases of successful airborne delivery of contraband to prisons and he expects to see more in the future.

“Just like any other technology, you have good used and bad uses,” he said.

Scassero said laws might need to be changed to deal with drone-flying contraband smugglers and envisions prison systems hiring companies that are adapting military technology to detect and stop the vehicles.

For more information, read the full story in the Baltimore Sun.