The drug P is flying high over prison walls, stuffed inside dead birds thrown from the outside by accomplices of desperate inmates.
Corrections Department national security manager Karen Unwin said yesterday that in one of the more unusual methods of smuggling drugs into prisons, people had started throwing dead birds stuffed with methamphetamine, or P, over prison fences.
"A great number of our prisoners are quite cunning and people underestimate their ingenuity. Some are quite desperate, so will resort to any wacky measures," she said.
Urwin said drugs had previously been found stuffed into tennis balls or fruit and thrown into exercise yards.
The main method of smuggling drugs into prison was inside body cavities, but prison officers frequently uncovered other methods.
These included, for those who had lost eyes in fights, stuffing drugs into eye sockets.
On other occasions, people put them inside bubblewrap around presents posted to inmates, Urwin said.
"The prisoner grapevine is more efficient than Bill Gates's network.
"You can guarantee if one person figures out a way to get drugs in, it will spread like wildfire," she said.
Urwin said that despite the department clamping down on contraband smuggling, it was a battle.
"Drugs are becoming more prevalent in the community and so we will see that reflected in the prison community."
Tighter security prompted prisoners to be more devious.
Drugs more commonly used today, such as P or LSD, were smaller and easier to hide than substances popular in the past, such as marijuana or hashish.
Babies visiting inmates were issued prison strollers and checks were done of the contents of their nappies after several people were caught secreting drugs inside their infants' pants and prams.
Inmates who tested positive for drugs were put on a special regime that included dressing in an orange all-in-one jumpsuit with a zip that could be opened only by a special key so drugs could not be concealed.
Inmates had to be drug-free for two tests before they had privileges restored.
Howard League for Penal Reform spokeswoman Kathy Dunstall said she had heard of inmates throwing tennis balls over prison walls, particularly at Christchurch Women's Prison and Mount Eden Prison, where it was easier to lob objects over certain fences.
Drugs were a major problem in prisons, but a lack of rehabilitation programmes was equally disturbing, she said.