A drone carrying 6.6 pounds of methamphetamine that crashed in a supermarket parking lot in Mexico close to the California border this week probably doesn’t signify a popular new method for transporting drugs, U.S. officials said. But it’s a reminder that cartels can use the increasingly popular aircraft just like any other business or government agency.
It wasn’t the first time drones have been used to smuggle drugs across the border. U.S. authorities who spoke to TIME said they haven’t noticed a trend of cartels using drones. Carlos Lazo, a spokesman with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, called it “an isolated incident.”
But Matthew Barden, a special agent and spokesman with the Drug Enforcement Administration, said authorities are always on guard for new cartel methods and that drones might appeal to traffickers for a number of reasons. The most likely, Barden said, would be surveillance, not transportation. “They can be…
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