A ban on prison visitors caused by COVID-19 has led to inmates increasingly using drones to smuggle drugs into jails.
Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin made the claim after his officers intercepted an alleged aerial drop of $100,000 worth of ‘bupe’ into a maximum-security prison in the Hunter region.
“Since visits were cancelled in March, we’ve seen people increasingly using mail, drones and tennis balls in an attempt to smuggle drugs into our prisons,” he said.
“So [prisoners] are trying new ways and drones, a very modern technology, are one of those ways to try to get it in.”
Officials found a drone with a line of string connected to a package in a car near Cessnock Correctional Centre. The package allegedly contained 108 buprenorphine strips and 42 buprenorphine tablets, known as ‘bupe’.
The ABC said each strip or tablet of the drug has a prison value of roughly $1,000.
“The good work by our correctional centre staff in searching for and detecting contraband should send a clear message to these people that ‘we are alert and you will get caught’,” said Severin.
“Our officers are proactive and undertake daily contraband searches of inmates, cells and common areas, these searches also focus on inmate mail and prison perimeter fences.”
One woman, 28, and two men, 22 and 19, have been charged in relation to the apparent failed drone drug drop.
Last year, Queensland’s Deputy Commissioner similarly warned that anyone caught flying drones over the state’s prisons risked two years in jail and a $12,000 fine.
It followed an incident where an officer spotted a drone over an exercise yard of the Capricornia Correctional Centre on Christmas Day.
A prisoner was thought to have caught the package of contraband before it was confiscated the facility was put into lockdown.