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Four charged after investigation into drone used in prison smuggling


June 15, 2020
By The Canadian Press

A months-long investigation into a drone found smuggling weapons and other contraband into a Kingston, Ont., prison has culminated in four arrests, provincial police announced last week on June 11.

Two people from Quebec are facing a slew of charges in the incident at Collins Bay Institution, police said, including participation in a criminal organization, conspiracy to commit and indictable offence, mischief and possession of a weapon.

Two others from the Toronto area are charged with participation in a criminal organization and conspiracy to commit and indictable offence.

The case has no apparent connection to similar incidents of drones being used to bring drugs, tobacco and weapons into the Collins Bay Institution, an OPP spokesman said, noting it appears to be a growing trend.

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“In the old days, many people would just try to throw things over the wall. And that still goes on. We still see that,” Bill Dickson said. “But drone use has definitely picked up.”

In this case, he said, police spotted a drone near the prison in the early hours of March 24 and found two people in a nearby vehicle. He said officers seized the drone, cannabis and cigars, and charged the two with mischief.

A package was then found on prison grounds containing weapons, tobacco and cannabis.

Officers began investigating with the help of provincial police in Quebec, and arrested four people this week.

Dickson wouldn’t say whether the two people originally charged with mischief were among those facing the new charges.

Collins Bay is not the only institution where drones are used to smuggle drugs, Dickson said, but in the Kingston area — nicknamed the prison capital of Canada — it appears to be the epicentre.

He said he noted a surge in such incidents about a year ago, and added that the Correctional Service of Canada has been instrumental in the investigations.

“They’re right there on site all the time. They’re obviously keeping observation for this type of behaviour,” he said. “And when they see something we try to get there as quick as we can.”

Previously, officers arrested three people — including an inmate — after finding two men and a drone near Collins Bay in late January. They say they found contraband within the prison’s walls.

And in April, police say they found a drone in a tree near the prison.

Dickson said the cases don’t appear to be related.

The Correctional Service of Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2020.

– Nicole Thompson

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2020