Security

Chinese smugglers use drones to transport $80M worth of iPhones

Some 26 suspects were involved with the act, which took phones from Hong Kong to Shenzhen.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Smugglers in China were busted after attempting to transport $79.8 million worth of refurbished iPhones from Hong Kong to Shenzhen.
  • Drone regulations are a hot topic in many countries, as cases involving criminal acts have made major headlines.

Chinese smugglers were recently busted in Shenzhen after attempting to illegally transport $79.8 million worth of refurbished iPhones across the border using drones, the Legal Daily reported Friday.

As reported by Reuters, some 26 suspects were arrested in Shenzhen after they used the drones two fly to separate cables—each 660 feet in length—between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, connecting the cities.

In citing a Thursday conference by Shenzhen customs, the Legal Daily reported: "It's the first case found in China that drones were being used in cross-border smuggling crimes."

SEE: Drone policy (Tech Pro Research)

As noted by Reuters, it only took the smugglers a few seconds to transport small bags across the border, each holding more than 10 of the refurbished iPhones. Using this method, and operating after midnight, the team of criminals could get as many as 15,000 phones across in a single night.

According to the Legal Daily, Shenzhen customs noted that it would be looking out for new types of smuggling that involves advanced technologies, including using its own drones to monitor for smuggling.

The smuggling incident isn't the first time that drones have been involved in cross-border crimes. In January 2015, drone carrying six pounds of methamphetamine crashed in Mexico near the US border. At the time, the DEA said drones were becoming more common as a means to transport drugs over the border.

Additionally, a host of other disasters have also been reported involving drones, including a drone crashing near the White House, a drone crashing into an Airbus A320, and even a drone cutting off the tip of photographer's nose.

As disasters continue, business leader are pushing for the advancement of drone deliveries, which some have said could happen " within months." With these two paths for drone use at odds with each other, it's becoming more obvious that regulation is needed to clearly define what constitutes a commercial use of a drone and how lawmakers will be able to prosecute operators who use them for criminal activity.

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Image: DJI

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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