In a scheme straight out of the Middle Ages, authorities at the Pacific Institution in Abbotsford, a correctional facility about 50 miles away from Vancouver, “reported capturing a pigeon carrying a tiny backpack filled with illicit drugs” in the prison yard late last month, according to Yahoo.
Yahoo reports that a “tiny fabric backpack tied to the pigeon contained crystal meth,” and that guards at the prison “spotted the bird and its cargo on Dec. 29 in one of the facility’s recreation yards.”
“It was spotted by correctional officers, I believe, and security intelligence officers when the officers were doing their standard patrols around and throughout the unit and institution, that’s when they initially spotted the bird with the package on it,” John Randle, a spokesperson for the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, said, as quoted by Yahoo. “The officers then set up a trap to capture it.”
The Canadian Broadcasting Company has more on the daring capture:
“Officers were standing in one of the fenced inmate unit yards, which prisoners use regularly for hanging out, playing games or just getting some fresh air. Then the officers noticed something strange: a grey bird with a small package on its back. ‘From my understanding, it was tied to it in a similar fashion as like a little backpack,’ Randle said. The officers moved in. ‘They had to corner it,’ Randle said. ‘You can imagine how that would look, trying to catch a pigeon.’ After ‘a lengthy period of time,’ the officers apprehended the bird, removed its cargo and set it free. Randle said the package contained about 30 grams of crystal meth, which he described as a ‘fairly substantial’ amount of the intensely addictive stimulant. ‘It’s definitely scary with the fact that it was crystal meth that was found on the bird, because that causes a whole lot of problems,’ he added. Corrections Canada confirmed in an email it is investigating, but would not provide further details.”
There is precedent for this sort of fowl play.
In 2017, customs officials in Kuwait captured a pigeon that was also carrying drugs in a miniature backpack.
“A total of 178 pills were found in the fabric pocket attached to its back,” the BBC reported at the time, citing the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Ra’i.
“The bird was caught near the customs building in Abdali, close to the border with Iraq,” the BBC said. “An al-Rai journalist said the drugs were a form of ketamine, an anaesthetic also used as an illegal party drug. Abdullah Fahmi told the BBC that customs officials already knew pigeons were being used to smuggle drugs, but this was the first time they had caught a bird in the act.”
There was a similar story out of Argentina that same year, with police there shooting and killing “a carrier pigeon as it flew into a prison, then found a stash of cannabis and other contraband in a tiny backpack sewn to its feathers,” the British newspaper The Independent reported at the time.
“Officers at the Colonia jail in Santa Rosa, La Pampa, became suspicious after noticing the bird flying back and forth into the building over a number of days,” the newspaper reported. “After downing it, they discovered 7.5 grams of cannabis as well as 44 pills of the sedative Rivotril and a USB stick.”
“The method is also the most common way to sneak drugs into the Federal Penitentiary jail in Buenos Aires, the authorities said,” The Independent added.