drone with wire

As technology advances, so do the methods of illegal activities. Drones, once only used for recreational purposes, are now being employed for illicit activities, including smuggling of contraband into prisons and correctional facilities. The ease of access and affordability of drones has made them an attractive tool for criminals to transport illegal items into prisons. This poses a significant threat to prison security, which is already a challenging task. In this article, we will delve into the current state of drone usage for illegal smuggling, the risks it poses, and the measures being taken to combat it. We will also explore the latest drone detection technology that can be implemented to protect prisons and correctional facilities from this growing threat.

Smuggling with Drones – A growing threat to prison security

In recent years, we have seen evidence of a significant rise in the use of drones to access prison walls and smuggle different forbidden items. Prisons and correctional facilities face a growing threat from drone smuggling. Criminals are using drones to smuggle contraband, such as drugs, weapons, tobacco, alcohol and mobile phones, into prisons, posing a risk to prison security. Drones are also being used for intelligence gathering, as criminals can use them to gather information about prisons and other correctional facilities. 

The use of drones for smuggling has become a major concern for prison security. The use of drones for smuggling has increased the risk of violence in prisons and has made it more difficult for prison staff to maintain control over what is happening inside the prison walls. To name a few examples:

  • In the United States, drones have been used to deliver drugs, weapons, and cell phones to inmates. In one case, a drone dropped drugs and other contraband in the exercise yard of an Ohio prison in 2015. 4 years later, two people were arrested and charged for the first time with US federal prosecutions of noncommercial aircraft pilots as they tried to attempt to smuggle drugs, tobacco, and cellphone into the Telfair State Prison, a closed-custody facility. (Source: Wired).
  • In Scotland, reports have shown an increase in drones’ usage, as far as a 700% increase from 2019 to 2023. As an example, a drone was used to deliver drugs and mobile phones to inmates in Perth Prison in 2021. The drone crashed into the prison yard and was recovered by staff, along with the contraband. (Source: BBC)
  • In Australia, a drone was used to drop contraband into a prison in New South Wales in 2019. The drone delivered a package containing drugs and tobacco, which was recovered by staff. (Source: Forbes)

The prosecutions mentioned above speak to a broader federal effort to crack down on an escalating number of drone contraband drops that have drawn the attention of the US Department of Justice, the European Commission’s counterterrorism unit, and Interpol, and that are worrying prison officials, politicians, and law enforcement agents around the globe.

In the annual report 2021-2022 of the office of the correctional investigator of Canada, drones as a means for prison smuggling are mentioned as a risk that needs to be addressed to support the safety and security of the offenders, staff, and visitors in institutions.

Smuggling Drugs, Alcohol, Weapons, Mobile Phones, and More

  • Drug smuggling is one of the most common uses of drones in prisons. Criminals are using drones to smuggle drugs into prisons, making it easier for inmates to get their hands on drugs. 
  •  Weapons are also being smuggled into prisons using drones, which poses a serious risk to the safety of prison staff and other inmates. 
  • Mobile phones and sim cards are other items that are being smuggled into prisons using drones, allowing inmates to communicate with people outside the prison walls. 
  • Alcohol 
  • Innocent items can become violent when fall into the wrong hands.

Intelligence Gathering with Drones into Prisons – A New Challenge to Prison Security

Criminals are also using drones for intelligence gathering. They can use drones to gather information about prisons and other correctional facilities, such as the layout of the facility, the location of guards, their shift schedules, and the location of cameras. This information can be used to plan escapes, coordinate attacks, or smuggle contraband into the prison. One example of this was the dramatic escape of infamous gangster Rédoine Faïd’s from a French jail using a helicopter. Authorities suspected that the gang who had helped the escape first used drones to collect information about the prison, which had helped them to understand there was a courtyard not fitted with anti-aircraft netting.

Current methods for confiscating drones involved with smuggling

The use of drones for smuggling illegal items has become a growing concern in recent years, prompting law enforcement agencies and security personnel to develop new methods for detecting and confiscating these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). By now, the methods for confiscating drones involved with smuggling typically involved simple tools. For example, in former occasions, guards identified drones smuggling different items for prisons using CCTV or their own eyes.  Moreover, prisons used to cover windows and outside spaces with large nets or even used eagles to try to prevent drones from entering their airspace, but those solutions haven’t been particularly effective. 

With growing concern, the use of technology such as radar, radio frequency (RF) detection, and visual tracking systems has been introduced. These technologies are used to locate the drone and determine its trajectory, allowing law enforcement agencies to intercept the UAV before it can complete its mission. However, they are not always accurate, create false alarms, and are usually costly and complex to operate for security personnel who don’t have the specific skills it takes to command and control them. Moreover, they are not fit for purpose when it comes to mitigating the drone threat and require additional capabilities to neutralize it.  As smugglers become smarter and continue to adapt their methods, it is important for authorities to continuously develop new strategies to stay ahead of the game.

Sentrycs Integrated Counter Drone Technology – Increase Your Prison Security

Sentrycs has developed an integrated counter-drone technology that can help increase prison security. Their technology can detect drones, track their movements, locate the drone operator, and mitigate any potential threats. Sentrycs’ technology is autonomous and provides a 24/7 solution. In other words, it is designed to be easy to use and not require real-time decision-making when drones enter the no-fly-zone perimeter defined by the prison, Lastly, Sentrycs can be integrated with existing security systems.

How Does Sentrycs Counter Drone Protection Technology Work for Prisons?

Sentrycs’ counter drone protection technology works in four stages: Detect, Track, Identify, and Mitigate.

  1. Seamless integration – Sentrycs easily integrates with prisons’ command and control systems and alerts security personnel when a drone threat arises.
  2. Detection of drones – Sentrycs technology can detect drones in real-time, allowing prison staff to respond quickly to any potential threats and ensuring the safety of everyone within the prison’s walls.
  3. Tracking of drones – Sentrycs technology can track the movements of drones, providing valuable intelligence about the location and activities of the drone operator.
  4. Identification of drone operators – Sentrycs technology can identify the drone operator, providing law enforcement with valuable information about who is responsible for the drone.

Mitigation of threats – Sentrycs technology can deploy countermeasures to neutralize any potential threats posed by the drone.

Advantages of using Sentrycs’ solution

Sentrycs is an innovative and tailored solution that provides several advantages when compared to other Detection-Tracking-Identification (DTI) and mitigation technologies for unauthorized commercial drones. One of the key advantages of Sentrycs is that it is less sensitive to noise caused by buildings and communications signals, making it more reliable and accurate in dense urban areas. Additionally, Sentrycs does not require line of sight, creating greater flexibility in deployment scenarios. Unlike other technologies, such as radars or RF scanners, Sentrycs creates no interference with communication signals and no collateral damage. Moreover, Sentrycs is fully autonomous, allowing it to operate continuously without the need for human intervention. The flexible multi-sensor configuration of Sentrycs also enables it to adapt to different environments and situations. Finally, Sentrycs can differentiate between friend and foe drones, enabling security personnel to quickly identify potential threats and take appropriate action. All these factors make Sentrycs the ultimate alternative to costly and complex sensor fusion approaches for drone detection and mitigation.


In conclusion, the use of drones for smuggling and intelligence gathering in prisons and correctional facilities is becoming a significant threat to prison security. Criminals are finding new ways to evade traditional security measures with the advancements in technology. Therefore, it is crucial to have a reliable drone detection solution to combat this problem.

Sentrycs offers effective anti-drone technology that can detect, track, identify, and mitigate the risks posed by drones. By utilizing Sentrycs’ technology, prisons can protect themselves against drone-related incidents such as drug and alcohol trafficking, weapon smuggling, and intelligence gathering.

The benefits of using Sentrycs’ technology in prisons are many, including being a complete end-to-end solution that provides detection, tracking, identification, and mitigation in one system, including a C2 module. Additionally, Sentrycs’ solution is specific and targeted, meaning that it does not prevent authorized UAVs from being flown at the same time. The system is also customizable and can be integrated with existing security measures.

Given the continued threat of drone smuggling to prison security, it is essential for prisons to consider investing in drone detection technology such as Sentrycs’ solution. This technology offers a reliable way to combat the growing threat of drone smuggling and to protect the safety and security of inmates, staff, and the public.


How can Sentrycs’ anti-drone solution protect prisons against drug trafficking?

Sentrycs’ anti-drone solution uses cutting-edge drone detection technology to identify and track drones approaching or hovering over prison premises. This technology enables prison authorities to intercept any illegal drone activity and prevent contraband from entering the facility. The early detection and quick response time provided by Sentrycs can significantly reduce the risk of drug trafficking into prisons.

How much does Sentrycs’ anti-drone technology cost?

The cost of Sentrycs anti-drone technology varies depending on the specific needs of each prison or correctional facility. Contact Sentrycs directly for more information on pricing and options.

Can Sentrycs’ anti-drone technology be integrated with existing security systems?

Yes, Sentrycs anti-drone technology is designed to be compatible with a wide range of existing security systems and can be integrated seamlessly into most security protocols.