Gardai pounce on men about to use drone to drop drugs into prison
Gardai have foiled the latest attempt by criminals to use a drone to smuggle drugs to prisoners after a seizure outside the Midlands Prison shortly before midnight on Monday.
Two men, aged 39 and 33, from Portlaoise, remained in custody last night after a drone and drugs were confiscated at 11.55pm.
Sources said a "few hundred euro" of cannabis herb and a quantity of illegal prescription drugs were seized along with the drone.
Gardai were alerted to the situation after neighbours noticed "suspicious activity" in the estate close to the Midlands Prison complex in the Co Laois town.
The drone was not airborne when officers pounced on the suspects, neither of whom is known for involvement in serious organised crime.
Last night, gardai were still trying to establish who the drugs were destined for in the prison.
The Midlands Prison houses numerous notorious inmates, including sex killer Graham Dwyer.
The Irish Prison Service is attempting to crack down on the use of drones to deliver illegal drugs into jails.
"The prevention of the flow of contraband continues to be a priority for the Irish Prison Service," a spokesman told the Herald.
"Advances in technology, such as the use of drones, does give rise to additional challenges for the Irish Prison Service and the service is constantly reviewing our security arrangements in this regard.
"The Irish Prison Service is currently testing an anti-drone system in one of our Dublin-based prisons.
"This solution has been in place for a number of months and initial findings of this test are positive.
"The operation of this pilot will be evaluated, and should the test prove to be successful, consideration will be given to rolling out this system to other prisons."
Yesterday, the Herald revealed footage of a drone dropping packages of drugs into the exercise yard of Cloverhill Prison last May.
In the video, the drone can be seen flying above the exercise yard before the packages are dropped.
There has been a major increase in the use of drones to fly drugs and contraband into Irish prisons in the past two years.
In a single week last March, 50 packets of drugs and other contraband were delivered by drone or thrown into Wheatfield Prison.
In an 18-month period, six drones were recovered by the Irish Prison Service in locations around the country after failed attempts to drop contraband into jail yards.
Five were at Wheatfield and one in Limerick, but there have also been attempts to drop drugs at Mountjoy and Castlerea.