Smugglers Use Drones to Sneak in iPhones to China

A confiscated drone used to smuggle iPhones
(Source: Reuters)

Authorities intercept aerial drones used to sneak $80 million worth of iPhones into China.

A confiscated drone used to smuggle iPhones
(Source: Reuters)

Drone technology has definitely come a long way since they were first invented. From taking breathtaking aerial shots for travel videos to detecting radiation and heat in emergency situations, they have been very useful.

What we didn’t hope to hear is for this tech to be used in less-desirable acts such as smuggling. Unfortunately, a group of criminals in Shenzhen did just that.

Authorities arrested 26 people for using drones to smuggle 500 million yuan worth (about $80 million) of iPhones. The phones came from Hong Kong.

“It’s the first case found in China that drones were being used in cross-border smuggling crimes,” the Legal Daily reported through Reuters. China is the world’s largest manufacturer of drone technology.

The group used aerial drones to connect two 200-meter cables between two high-rise buildings. They then loaded 10 iPhones into small bags and sent each bag one by one through the cable. The smugglers usually operated only after midnight. According to custom officers, they could easily smuggle as many as 15,000 phones in one night.

The state-owned Legal Daily also reported that custom officers now plan to keep a closer eye on high-tech smuggling, including the use of their own drones and high-resolution monitors.

Last year, China started implementing stricter rules for drone ownership due to an increased incidence of drones crossing aircraft flight paths. This included making owners register certain crafts under their real names.