Helicopter drone crashes in prison yard carrying drugs cargo

Device had camera fitted so operator could make delivery to prisoner

An anti-helicopter wire put in place in a prison exercise yard to prevent any repeat of the 1973 IRA escape from Mountjoy Prison, Dublin, has scuppered an ingenious effort to smuggle drugs into another jail.

A helicopter drone that flew into the exercise yard of Wheatfield Prison, Dublin, carrying drugs, struck the wire and crashed.

At 11am on Tuesday, the helicopter slowly lowered into the yard with a haul of drugs hanging from it by a string.

Prison sources said a camera on the device enabled whoever was flying it to see where it was going and make sure the intended recipient of the contraband was in place.


Without landing

“The prisoner the drugs were intended for would take the drugs off the string and the helicopter would fly away without ever landing,” said one source.

When the helicopter crashed, a number of prisoners rushed to retrieve the drugs but were corralled by staff.

They are now under observation at the jail until the drugs, that staff believe they swallowed or stuffed into a body cavity, “reappear”.

The helicopter and camera are being analysed by gardaí. An electronic SD card, which should contain data as to the movements of the device, has also been retrieved from the camera.

The prime suspect for the operation from within the jail has been identified as a Dublin man who is serving a sentence for armed robbery.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times