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As drone technology has become more sophisticated and more affordable, criminals have been using these unmanned air systems to smuggle drugs, cellphones and even weapons into prisons. An attempt to deliver a load of drugs and cellphones to inmates at an Arizona prison failed when the drone carrying the contraband crashed recently in a yard accessible only to corrections officers. The homemade aerial drone flew over Arizona State Prison and crashed in a security zone inaccessible to inmates.

It was the first known incident involving a drone at an Arizona state prison, according to corrections spokesman Andrew Wilder.

All airspace around prisons is federally restricted so flying any item, including drones, near the facilities is prohibited, Wilder said.  Attempting to smuggle drugs and cellphones into prisons is a felony crime.

Wilder said correctional officers at the facility discovered the drone after it crashed and confiscated the contraband. Inside were two cellphones and several freezer bags filled with marijuana, according to

Similar incidents have taken place at other correctional facilities across the country, including at federal correctional facilities in Louisiana and Texas. In July 2015, a fight broke out at Mansfield Correctional Institution in Ohio when a drone dropped tobacco, marijuana and heroin to an inmate at the prison, sparking an altercation, according to a CNN report.

Drones have become an important security problem also in UK prisons.  According to, a British prison has become the world’s first to use a new system designed to stop drones flying over perimeter walls to drop contraband into jails. The device creates a 600m shield around and above a prison that will detect and deflect the remote-controlled devices.  It uses a series of “disruptors”, which are sensors to jam the drone’s computer and block its frequency and control protocols. The operator’s screen will go black and the drone will be bounced back to where it came from.