Prison guards at the Pacific Institution in Abbotsford intercepted a pigeon with a small backpack containing crystal meth  Prison guards in B.C.’s Fraser Valley have to be vigilant against drones trying to drop contraband to waiting inmates or someone trying to throw drugs over the walls, but a recent discovery has also caused some concern.

“A pigeon was located at Pacific Institution, inside the walls, and it appeared to have a small package, sort of like a backpack attached to it,” John Randle, president of the Pacific Region for Union of Canadian Correctional Officers told Global News. He said the package contained crystal meth. The incident reportedly happened on Dec. 29 at the maximum, medium and minimum federal penitentiary located in Abbotsford. Randle said the pigeon was found near one of the recreation yards at the institution.

“It was spotted by correctional officers, I believe, and security intelligence officers when the officers were doing their standard patrols around and throughout the unit and institution, that’s when they initially spotted the bird with the package on it,” he said. “And then, of course, I believe there was some creative work – because the bird moved around quite a bit – in order to track it and capture it. But it was just outside one of the unit yards when it was first spotted.”  Peruvian police catch “narco pigeon” trying to smuggle marijuana into prison

Randle said they have had issues with contraband in the past, with drones or something being thrown over the wall, but in his 13-year career, he has never heard of birds being used to smuggle something into a prison.  “It’s almost like the inmates and the criminals are going back in time and using older technology,” he said.

In November, Mission Institution was locked down for days due to a belief that a drone may have dropped a firearm onto the prison grounds. The lockdown was lifted when no gun was found but officers did locate a drone. Lost pigeon flew the coop, finding her way from France to Calgary  Randle said keeping drugs out of the prisons has become a huge part of correctional officers’ jobs every day, not just in B.C. but across Canada.  “Especially with drones and throw-overs, the drug problem is growing on a daily basis,” he said. “This pigeon thing adds a new element to that for sure and we’ll be on the lookout for it but definitely drones have been the big thing for us.”  He added that right now it is unclear to investigators if someone inside the prison was training the bird or if it was someone outside the institution.  Randle said they have increased staff and patrols in order to watch for any potential drops. He said they also have anti-drone technology that works like a radar.

The Correctional Service of Canada and the RCMP have launched a joint investigation into what happened.

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