Security agencies don’t have more than a few minutes to intercept drones being frequently used by Narco-terror gangs to smuggle drugs or weapons in Punjab

The two drones recovered from a gang of narcotics smugglers, including an Army jawan, recently were sophisticated DJI Inspire 2 and DJI Matrice Quadcopters, which are known for their fast speed (90 kph) and quiet operation. These drones attain this speed within seconds of their launch.

Rahul Chauhan from Ambala, Naik with Army, was caught along with two Amritsar residents and smugglers Dharminder Singh and Balkar Singh on Friday. The police have arrested four others also, but the alleged kingpin Ajay Pal, is absconding.

The Inspire model, available online for around Rs 3 lakh per piece, is a Chinese manufactured product which is better used by filmmakers in Hollywood and elsewhere due to its excellent video camera and still photography results.

Its use for fetching drugs from across the border by Punjab smugglers has thrown up a new challenge for the security forces. The battery of Inspire drones allows around 27-minute airtime during which these can fly up to 7 km. The Matrice model has an airtime of 35-38 minutes. While DJI Inspire drone can carry a payload of up to 5 kg, the Matrice model can carry 7-9 kg payload.

These drones are fitted with intelligent return software that allows them to return to the base even when the contact with them is lost.

According to police officials, the payload is usually made to hang from the drone using a string. This obviates the need to land the drone for delivering a payload, thus considerably reducing the risk of a crash or seizure.

Sources said one drone sortie carrying 5 kg heroin can fetch anything between Rs 5 crore to Rs 25 crore for smugglers in local and international market, respectively. The police and BSF look forward to acquiring equipment developed by Israel to check such sorties. Till then, interception depends on manual surveillance as drones being low fliers are not caught by radars.