French police destroy start-up Air Colis to transport drones prisons

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Posted by jammer from the General category at 30 Oct 2023 03:55:22 am.
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with radio or wireless signals
Deliveries of banned materials to prison inmates via drone are becoming increasingly ambitious and bold around the world, but an aerial smuggling ring busted by police in western France stands out for its quasi-startup organization and efficiency.

This summer, four gang members were arrested after Nantes police launched an investigation into the movement of contraband phones and drugs found during cell phone blocker searches. What they discovered was not only a well-organized and frequently used system for delivering prey using a DJI Mini, but also a Snapchat-based method of acknowledging commands from within Clink.
The perpetrators even gave their illegal company a name: Air Colis
Police became aware of the plan when guards first spotted a drone jammer hovering outside the window of a prison in Nantes. The next morning, authorities discovered 36 smartphones and 1.6 kilograms of drugs hidden by inmates. A month later, staff at another regional correctional facility spotted a drone making similar nighttime deliveries — an activity that was repeated at two other regional prisons around the same time.

Drone deliveries were often made to all four prisons on the same night, prompting local military police to cautiously begin investigations. They gradually discovered an operation (albeit illegal) that could teach the beleaguered Amazon Prime Air a lot.
This is how it functioned
Inmates monitoring contraband sales in their respective prisons placed orders with an outside partner, who in turn contacted four Air Colis organizers. The weight of each drone's payload (whether drugs, iPhones or tobacco) is limited to 500 grams, and transport costs a flat rate of 400 euros ($422). The contraband flown in was exchanged at a not-so-remote clandestine meeting point (a McDonald's parking lot in Nantes), where it was weighed and photographed so that the prisoners could confirm that the content on the Snapchat was what they intended. What’s needed – a crime hedge against unsatisfied customers returning goods.

Nantes police, who busted the aerial quartet, said the drone-dropped shipments would be delivered directly to recipients waiting at the prison windows, and light jamming signal would be used to guide the ships to their location. The flights were flown in the middle of the night to four different prisons in western France, with each mission divided into five to ten missions, meaning multiple missions to the same prison were sometimes carried out in quick succession.

It is estimated that Air Colis made at least 50 shipments before police tracked down the gang in late September and revealed details of the operation.

The raid, which halted an illegal prison airlift, uncovered nine DJI Minis (including at least one original Mavic, according to police photos), several spare batteries, 500 grams of cocaine, a kilogram of marijuana and 900 euros ($950). Cash and thermal binoculars control the drone to identify the correct unit window at night.

"It's like an Uber delivering directly to the window," Nantes prosecutor Renaud Gaudeul said when announcing the arrest. "This is definitely not a trivial operation. As far as I know, France has never Things like this happen ... and it's good for criminals to see investigators doing their best as well."
If things continue this way, French police will need to further refine their counter-drone efforts.

This summer alone, Air Colis is estimated to have transported more than 50 drones, bringing the number of confirmed drones entering French prisons in 2022 to 68, according to corrections officials. The number was more than 37 the year before. At this rate, the occupants of the car will be discovered the next time police conduct a search using a special app.
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