Drugs, phones wing their way to prisoners
Wed Jun 25, 2008
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A sharp increase in drugs and cellphones found inside a Brazilian prison mystified officials -- until guards spotted some distressed pigeons struggling to stay airborne.
Inmates at the prison in Marilia, Sao Paulo state had been training carrier pigeons to smuggle in goods using cell phone sized pouches on their backs, a low-tech but ingenious way of skipping the high-tech security that visitors faced.
"We have sophisticated equipment to search people when they go in, but they avoided this by finding another way to bring in cellphones and drugs," prison director Luciano Gamateli told Globo TV.
Officials said the pigeons, bred and trained inside the prison, lived on the jail's roof, where prisoners would take their deliveries before smuggling the birds out again through friends and family.
The scheme was uncovered when guards on the prison walls saw some pigeons struggling to fly.
Brazil's overcrowded prisons have notoriously lax security, with cell-phone and drug use common among inmates. Two years ago, a powerful Sao Paulo prison gang used cell-phones to orchestrate a wave of attacks against police and public property.
Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.