back to article Cocaine-hunting robot chopper in 60kg bust seizure

An unmanned kill-chopper operating from a US Navy warship has notched up its first drug bust while still in testing, according to reports. The "Fire Scout" robocopter was engaged in sea trials aboard the US frigate McInerney earlier this month when its mothership detected a possible "go-fast" drug-smuggling speedboat on radar …


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  1. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    Stop The Killing! End The War...

    ..on drugs.

    CBS reported that the "Mexican Drug Wars" are spilling over into US border towns. Hello: These are not "Mexican" problems, this is the US War on Drugs. Wasting scarce taxpayer dollars, and killing thousands of innocent people. (20,000 deaths just in the last year or so.)

    Legalize, tax, educate. I know it sounds too simple.

    If beer were illegal, organized gangs would be killing each other. Oh. wait, the USA tried that, and it created the drug cartels called the Mafia.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Gotta love the blinking "FAULT" in the top right corner of that vid ^^

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Tracking's pretty poor too

      Looks like towards the beginning they try switching the object tracking on several times but it's more interested in the cold wash left behind by the boat, so they switch back to manual gimbal.

      On a side note why do the drug lords still use boats like this given they're so easily spotted and intercepted? Even if they do make it to port, presumably the off loading must be equally risky. Surely 90 GPS guided foamies could be put together for less than the cost one of these sports boats and each loaded with a kilo of contraband without the attendant risk to the operators. Maybe it is simply a macho thing for them to be seen doing.

  3. telecine


    Why don't they just give up trying to fight a 'war' they can never win...

    Oh hold on... It's what always happens...

    Silly me...

  4. Jerome 2

    60kg bust seizure

    I think either 'bust' or 'seizure' might be redundant there, as it definitely appears to be charlie and not a massive pair of breasts they've got their hands on. Anyway, what a mind blowing waste of tech.

  5. Identity
    Black Helicopters

    MIssed opportunity?

    Shouldn't this also be filed under ROTM? I mean, think ahead...

  6. Anonymous Coward

    take em out!

    CIA drug lords do not like competition from these little guys!

  7. Anonymous Coward

    The real results of drugs

    I'm amazed at your facile, superior ignorance of the results of drug use. Here in Florida, we're on the battlefield itself of the war on drugs. These are NOT "victimless crimes". Alkaloids like heroin and cocaine are astonishingly addictive, I have seen people hooked - really hooked - in just a few days. Teenagers try things, they push the limits, and sometimes their choices aren't very good.

    Alkaloid addiction takes a year to cure - and the success rate isn't wonderful because there is a lot of recidivism. People who are hooked will do ANYTHING for their next fix - burglary, robbery, assault, doesn't matter, they are quite literally out of their minds, desperately, frantically searching for the next fix and the next and the next. Physiologically, alkaloids are the "perfect" drug for humans - there's no such thing as "I can quit any time" here.

    I've had people tell me "I snorted my Mercedes, my home, my marriage, my kids, I didn't care, I needed it and needed more." I've had rental houses I have owned turned into crack houses and be demolished by the junkies - and then condemned and torn down by the city - and these were NICE houses in NICE areas, not inner city slums. So I have been a casualty in the war on drugs, I have personally had losses in this battle.

    I've spoken to law enforcement, they tell me they are spending huge amounts of time chasing crackheads, trying to find and arrest dealers, writing up burglary reports - all of this drug related. Needless to say, the victim's homeowner's insurance goes up or is even canceled because of the claims, and if you have a mortgage, you MUST have homeowner's insurance, no matter what the price. There's another cost of drugs, house values go down in "high crime" areas.

    I've spoken to lawyers - they spend hours and hours in court on drug related cases, and their fees are paid by the state - out of our taxes. ("If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you.") Or do you prefer we just let people rot in jail or simply die?

    Drugs have a HUGE cost to society, and anyone who denies this is ignorant and deliberately obtuse and stupid.

    While the war on drugs is expensive and divisive, NOT having the war on drugs would be incredibly worse. After the first hit or two, the drug user no longer has a choice - they are HOOKED - they CANNOT QUIT - and they destroy their lives and the lives of the people around them and the lives of everyone they come in contact with - all to feed the monkey on their back. "Legalize it and tax it" won't begin to work, who do you think is going to be bothered with paying the taxes? Why not also legalize and tax rape and murder?

    We need to redouble our efforts, work smarter and harder, eliminate the sources of production, destroy the lines of supply, dismantle the cartels, and get SERIOUS about this war - because WE ARE LOSING right now.

    1. YarrPirate!

      The real results of drugs - Other opinion

      Have a look at what is happening in Portugal, which decriminalized drugs close to 10 years ago. Less money spent on repression, less people in jail, less crime, diminished usage of drugs, diminished transmission of HIV, etc...,8599,1893946,00.html

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >Losing the drug war...

      Yep. The trouble is that ultimately policing depends on the will of the public to be policed. If enough people want to ignore the law then it tends to become unenforcable - as you point out and as is happening...

      Most of the classic SF dystopias featured an underclass that was drugged into submission and ultimately the cheapest way to solve the crime/drug war may be to provide the underclass with unlimited drug access... Sure itrs inhumane, but is it any worse than the inhumane treatment they get now?

      1. Hud Dunlap

        Ignoring the basis of anti-drug law

        Typical Time article. Doesn't go into the background of the drug laws. Until the U.S. signed treaty's opposing drug trafficking, the courts continually ruled that drug laws were un-Constitutional. Until those treaties are changed, drugs can not be legalized.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. A J Stiles

      But you miss something

      More of the social problems (which I don't deny exist) are derived from illegality than from any intrinsic property of the drugs themselves.

      * People don't (usually) commit crimes to fund their addictions to alcohol, tobacco or the Internet.

      * People only take freebase (crack) cocaine because cocaine is so expensive. It's only expensive because it's illegal.

      * People are dissuaded from seeking help at an early stage (when it's most likely to be effective) for fear of the consequences.

      * Accidental overdoses from purer product than the user was expecting and poisoning from adulterated product are the results of poor quality control, but there is no incentive for good quality control.

      * Electrocutions and fires in cannabis grow-houses are the result of improperly-wired electrical systems, because there is no requirement to adhere to regulations.

      * Once you know you are going to be treated as a criminal just for possessing a substance, it's psychologically much easier to commit another crime. ("You may as well hang for a sheep, as for a lamb")

      Most of the street price of illegal drugs is spent on working around prohibition; a night's entertainment typically costs pennies to produce, and if this was legal, even heavily taxed, there would be no profit to be made operating outside the law.

      I *guarantee* you that if something you consider fairly innocuous (coffee? chips? beer? -- oh, but you already tried that one) was banned tomorrow, then before next Christmas there would be an illegal market exactly parallelling the present illegal drugs market, with equivalent attendant social problems.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      pot calling kettle ignorant

      most of the crime you speak of is caused by the drugs in question being illegal and therefore costing a fortune. if all drugs were legal (not what i'm advocating but just for the sake of argument) prices would plummet to nothing.

      for example the aussies have small opium poppie fields they use to make medicenal products like codine/morphine etc if legalised these would expand hugely and also the afghanis would produce by the millions of tons. even at present laws a kil of opium legally grown in india is selling for $26 the street value of that would be in the $1000's

      further evidence required : us alchol prohibition, nuff said

      as for the addictivness, anythings addictive from personal observations alchol particully so in some people. however if they are buying the product over the counter in a controlled manner they are unlikly to be robbing houses etc as the price would be less thena tenth of what they are currently paying for street drugs cut with god only knows what.

      if you want to stop the war on drugs legalise and tax the more recriational substances weed,mdma, shrooms,LSD and sell in controlled enviroments (i.e pharmacys). you'll have now taken a huge slab of money from the illegal drug dealers. next use the money to set up full rehab centers coupled with legalised injection clinics for addicts. why? because now you can keep an eye on them? the dutch have tried this and it stops the crackden situation.

      once things like weed etc are decriminilised/legalised you'll see a drop in hard drugs use? again seems counter logical but simply lying and telling people that one joint is going to turn them into a monster means that after the said first joint when they dont turn into a monster they will think everything said about drugs is a lie even when true and try more and more things. as for the craving etc ever see an alcholic before the licensing hours allow you to sell? i have regularly the substance doesn't matter people will always be addicts

      of course this will never happen after all how ar eyou gonna have paramilitry SWAT teams, massive border teams etc without the whole ZOMG DRUGS!!!!11111 panic.

      oh and while i'm ranting dealers dont push drugs, people look for drugs, people buy drugs. people are the problem not the substances.

      1. ian 22

        Britain. China. Opium Wars.

        Perhaps you can convincee the Chinese that drug addiction is A Good Thing, and that they should allow Blighty to supply it.

        No? How strange.

        Mine's the one with white powder on the lapel.

    6. Anonymous Coward

      You forgot to add...


    7. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      @The real results of drugs

      A lengthy response does not, a good one make.

      Some facts that you have misconstrued:

      - Cocaine is not physically addictive, any addiction witnessed is purely mental addiction which means that there is an increased likelihood of that person being addicted to any substance, and this is especially true if these drugs never existed.

      The lawyers and anyone else you "spoke to" did not take their deductive reasoning any further than our taxes a re paying for this, yes they are and if these drugs didn't exist governments would find something else as ludicrous to justify a hike in taxes.

      In summary you are providing stale arguments that are not very well thought out; perhaps have a think before you troll.


    8. Marcus Aurelius

      Cost to Society

      Drugs have a HUGE cost to society, and anyone who denies this is ignorant and deliberately obtuse and stupid.

      Few on the "legalise drugs" side deny drugs have a cost to society; however the two deadliest drugs are alcohol and tobacco, and both are taxed and legal, meaning that the cost to society is recovered and the cost to law enforcement is limited to Customs activity and preventing under age drinking.

      If you legalise, you eliminate a war, and reduce the cost of fighting to that of maintaining a "peacetime" force. If you're in any doubt about how expensive fighting a war is, just look over the cost of paying a visit to Iraq and Afghanistan has been for the US. Wars aren't profitable unless you can pillage (or tax) the conquered country, and this applies to drugs too.

    9. SirStrider

      More than 1 way to fight a war

      Not that your post is a bit sensational - but its nice to know that other countries are experimenting with other methods of dealing with drug addiction and are actually having a better rate of success.,8599,1893946,00.html

    10. Captain Thyratron
      Black Helicopters


      ...not having it would likely be a major improvement, even regarding things like heroin. Prohibition retards the development of social conventions which would normally encourage more careful, controlled use of drugs; such conventions exist nearly worldwide for "safe" intoxicants such as alcohol and tobacco (i.e. in countries which do not ban them, and there are some that do), and are commonplace in some countries and cultures regarding cannabis, psychedelics, opiates, and even stuff like belladonna and datura. Thus, only a fraction of the people who use alcohol are alcoholics, and similar patterns seem to develop whenever there is enough openness around a drug (say, cannabis or LSD) that people can talk to each other about it. The "war on drugs" has not succeeded in preventing people from doing drugs, or even in substantially reducing their use; however, by labelling all narcotic use as deviant behavior and driving it underground, the war has been successful at making sure that fewer people use them *safely*.

      This was, of course, studied to death at least a decade before I existed. If, by chance, you are in a mood to question your own opinions, take some time to read the following:

  8. J-Wick

    60kg? Didn't they mean.... uhmmmm 58kg??

    "Yeah, I know we initially thought 60kg but we must have overestimated. We just double-checked the evidence locker and it was definitely a 58kg shipment we intercepted...."

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I think he means

      Chop it up.

  9. Sly

    already got my coat

    Spark it up man...

  10. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Rise of the Machines!!

    I for one welcome our drug-snorting, unmanned aerial overlords.....

    And yes, lets start working towards legalization and treatment instead of enforcement and prison....

  11. Anonymous John

    @The real results of drugs

    Yes we are losing the war- because it's unwinnable. We've been fighting it for about 100 years, and we'll still be fighting it a century from now unless we call a halt.

    In the 1930s you'd have had speakeasies, and the crime that went with it. Now you have crack-houses.

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Glenn Fry. Smugglers Blues

    Saw this item from the Miami Vice days a little while ago.

    Made IIRC 1983.

    Has anything about the drug trade *really* changed beyond not smoking in government buildings?

    Big money. Big risk. Big Federal budgets. Crooked cops. Drug money funding oppressive (but US friendly) regimes.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Legalize weed

    Politicians against legalization support organized crime

  14. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Drug costs to society

    "Drugs have a HUGE cost to society, and anyone who denies this is ignorant and deliberately obtuse and stupid."

    Umm, all the costs you list come from the drugs in question being highly expensive due to being illegal, plus court costs etc. strictly from them being illegal. If they were legal, "hits" would be cheap, there wouldn't be all this legal time on drug cases, and people could get treatment to get off these drugs. See cigarettes -- they are in between cocaine and crack in addictiveness, (most) people don't rob, lose their homes, lose their cars, to get cigarettes. And cigs do kill people too, but people do successfully quit.

    "Cocaine is not physically addictive"

    I think you are wrong on this one. Everything I've heard, not just from anti-drug fanatics but from everyone else as well, indicates coke is plenty addictive.

  15. blackworx


    I may be reading the figures wrong as they're kinda fuzzy, but going by the lat/long showing on the vid, this was out in the Pacific, about 600km south west of Costa Rica. Dunno why but I assumed it would be in the Caribbean.

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    The downside to legalisation

    Use will rise, although possibly not amongst the majority of existing users. How many teens would feel smoking weed is rebellious when they find out half their teachers skin up at lunch time?*

    Health services would have to cope with the increase in people who cannot control their (now legalised) use. This might be offset by some of the patients already being treated for addiction to legal drugs.

    Companies which test for drugs would have fewer grounds to fire staff (it's not illegal) meaning they would have to confront the real reason they want to fire someone because they are incompetent and would now have to *prove* them so.

    Education services would have to spend more time explaining what these drugs are, dosage and effects rather than the 5 minutes of "Just say no".

    The FDA (or the better business bureau) would have to expand to crack down on sub standard suppliers. 5% by weight now *means* 5% by weight (and no rat poison)

    Substantial numbers of law enforcement staff would have to be re-assigned or made redundant. Severance packages for the whole of the DEA would probably be *billions*.

    The IRS would have to expand inspect the many newly legitimised suppliers. Note with supply legal overheads and sale price should drop *substantially* ,meaning expected tax revenue would be lower than based on the current street prices.

    Suppliers would have to stop being gangsters and start paying taxes and salaries as a proper business.

    Commodities markets would have to expand to support and report these new raw and finished materials.

    New groups of farmers could apply for federal aid following droughts or flood damage.

    Governments would have to admit they had p*££ed away *trillions* of dollars of taxpayers money over *decades* rather than show leadership and confront the public's schizophrenic attitude to the problem that the human brain responds to a *huge* range of mood altering compounds, in some cases (like *legal* drugs) very badly.

    All told a nightmare scenario for any right (and extremely right) thinking politicians.

    *I have no personal knowledge of any currently employed teacher smoking dope at any school.

  17. The_Police!

    I for one

    welcome our flying robot overlords!

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