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Don McCullough drone in blue sky
Watch out, drones bearing drugsDon McCullough via Flickr

Drone carrying six pounds of meth crashes at Mexican border

Is that you, Heisenberg?

Forget using drones to film porn; one enterprising Heisenberg has come up with a way better use of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Police in Tijuana, Mexico have discovered a drone carrying six packs of crystal meth, crashed just one mile from the US border. AP reports that the UAV had crashed in a supermarket car park with its three kilo booty. Police believe that the load overwhelmed the drone and have now launched an investigation. 

This is not the first time that drones have been used to smuggle drugs; let's face it, it's a lot better than sellotaping a kilo of meth to your abdomen and sweating through border patrol hoping for the best. The Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) reported that around 150 drones carrying Class A drugs crossed the border from Mexico to the USA in 2012.

Drone smuggling isn't just an American phenomenon. Last summer, a helicopter drone crashed into a prison yard in Dublin, with drugs tied to it on a dangling rope. One criminal in the West Midlands even admitted that he was flying heat-seeking drones over the countryside to detect rival dealers' cannabis farms. 

John L. Davidson, a lawyer and blogger specialising in drone law, claims that aeronautical engineers are fully aware of the demand for drones in the drug transportation industry and are actively building vehicles for that purpose.

He believes that the first real commercial application of drones may be to replace drug mules and eliminate face-to-face meetings between cartel bosses. One argument for darknet sites like Silk Road is that they help eliminate drug-related gang violence thanks to the faceless nature of online sales. Could drones do the same? 

Drones are no longer just a sci-fi dream, or a plaything of the authorities – UAVs are now widely available to the general public, meaning that the ever-abstract "war on drugs" will have to be fought in the sky as well as on the ground.