Chinese smugglers use drones to deliver iPhones

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DJI Phantom 4
The smugglers used a DJI Phantom 4 to fly iPhones over the border.
Photo: DJI

Criminals in China have discovered a brilliant new use for drones: smuggling valuable iPhones.

Authorities in China arrested 26 suspects that were found using drones to smuggle $80 million worth of iPhones between Hong Kong and the mainland in what is reportedly the first case of drones being used in cross-border smuggling crimes in China.

Drug dealers have been caught using drones to move their merchandise over the Mexico-U.S. border, but this first time we’ve heard of using it for iPhone smuggling. The smugglers used two 660 foot long cables attached to the drones to carry the payload of iPhones over the border.

Using the cable system, the team could transport small bags holding more than 10 iPhones in seconds. As many as 15,000 iPhones could be flown across the border in one night, according to the report from Reuters.

The drone smuggling technique is far more lucrative than other feeble attempts we’ve seen in the past. Like this guy who strapped 102 iPhones to his chest and tried to walk through customs. Or the daredevils that used crossbows and zip lines to move iPhones and iPads into Shenzhen.

China’s customs agents say that they will more closely monitor new types of smuggling with high tech devices. They also plan to boost their own tech with drones and high-resolution monitors to catch culprits.