Mexican drug cartels have begun converting consumer drones into “ISIS-style” aerial explosives.
According to a report from the Daily Beast Sunday, Federales last month discovered a weaponized unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) during a felony traffic stop in Mexico’s central Guanajuato state.
“The aerial drone in the rear cargo bay was armed and ready to be deployed,” the Daily Beast’s Jeremy Kryt writes. “Sitting in an open plastic case beside an AK47 assault rifle and spare clips.”
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The drone, a 3DR Solo Quadcopter, was equipped with a remote-controlled improvised explosive device (IED) filled with shrapnel.
Capable of traveling up to 55 miles per hour with its payload, the UAV would carry a “Papa Bomba,” or Potato bomb, in an attached sling.
“A core of explosive material such as potassium chlorate, sulfur, and aluminum powder is surrounded by an outer layer of improvised shrapnel like rusty nails and scrap metal,” Kryt adds. The FARC sometimes added human feces to the mix, so as to spread infection among the wounded. The lethal charge was then wrapped in layers of duct tape, until the packaging resembled an Idaho spud (hence the name).”
The design is somewhat similar to that of weaponized drones currently employed by ISIS across the Middle East. The terrorist group has utilized IED-laden UAVs since at least 2015.
While cartels have been known to use drones to carry drugs into the United States, the weaponized aerial behicle represents the first time such a device has been found in the possession of organized crime in Mexico.
“The intended destination for the UAV seized near Salamanca might have been the nearby municipality of Celaya, where several dismembered corpses have turned up recently,” Kryt added. “Such grisly displays are often a sign of infighting between competing crime groups.”
With 2017 shaping up to be the deadliest year in history for Mexico’s drug war and the recent arrest of Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the new aerial weapon is likely to proliferate among the country’s criminal element.