Fentanyl-laced meth and phones seized after second prison drone drop

A pre-Christmas drone drop was followed by a second incident in Abbotsford on Dec. 30

A second drone delivery of drugs made its way to prisoners at Matsqui Institution in late December before guards swooped in and seized fentanyl-laced methamphetamine and two cell phones,

Gordon Tanner, the assistant warden managment services at the Abbotsford prison, told The News a drone delivered contraband on Dec. 30, a week after guards had intercepted a drop-off of hash butter and tobacco.

Tanner said the second delivery was detected by closed circuit television cameras, and that staff then were able to watch as inmates picked up the contraband. Guards eventually connected seven different inmates with the contraband, which Tanner said was methamphetamine laced with fentanyl and valued at $12,162. Two cellphones, one of which was believed to have been dropped off by the drone, were also seized.

Tanner said it’s believed the cellphones were used to co-ordinate the deliveries.

Last week, the prison announced that, on Dec. 23, guards had intercepted a package containing more than $26,000 worth of contraband – hash butter and tobacco – that had been dropped off by a drone.

Tanner said the arrival of that drone had first been detected by guards as it flew high above the prison.

“They could hardly see it, but they could hear it first,” he said. The guards then watched as the drone landed, left its package, and flew off.

Tanner said the urban surroundings of the prison makes it almost impossible to find the drone or its operator. He said any suspicious circumstances should be reported either to the Abbotsford Police, or to corrections’ tip line, at 1-866-780-3784. Callers to the tip line remain anonymous.

The prison is also limited in what technology it can use to hinder drones by both federal rules and by Matsqui Institution’s location in a urban area near residential neighbourhoods.

Matsqui Institution isn’t alone in finding itself challenged by the prevalence of drones. A CTV story from last February reported that drones were increasingly being spotted around prisons in Quebec and that two had been seized in 2016

Tanner said the prison is doing what it can to prevent future drops.

“You definitely step up your vigilence, your patrols in the yard,” he said. “We’re restricting times the yard can be used and making sure a tower is up.

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