A second backpack-wearing pigeon has been caught at an Abbotsford prison, but this one wasn’t toting any drugs.
John Randle, president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers’ Pacific region, said the bird in this case appeared to be “in training” for future drug-smuggling missions.
Randle said correctional officers discovered the pigeon during a daily routine search at Matsqui Institution on Feb. 27. He said the bird was found inside the prison, although he wasn’t sure in exactly what area.
The backpack was made of fabric – either denim or a T-shirt or blanket, Randle said – but was empty and didn’t appear to have been used.
Randle said his theory is that the inmates were in the process of training the bird.
“To me, it sounds like this one was in its infancy,” he said.
This is the second incident of a backpack-toting pigeon being discovered at an Abbotsford prison.
The first one was found Dec. 29 in a yard at Pacific Institution and its backpack contained crystal methamphetamine.
But Randle said the far bigger concern for correctional officers is the “almost daily” drone drops at prisons across Canada.
“We’re seeing everything under the sun. We’re seeing steroids. We’re seeing fentanyl … Drones are delivering weapons and cellphones,” he said.
Randle said drones can drop “10 to 20 times” the load that a pigeon can carry with items worth up to $300,000 or more in institutional value.
He said the items are sometimes carried in empty metal coffee cans.
Randle said one of the biggest concerns about this form of smuggling is that the items could end up at the wrong destination – such as in a school yard.
“We can search and we can deal with what happens inside the walls of our institutions, but not what happens on the outside,” he said. “That’s why we’re really trying to work with the local police to try and figure out where this is coming from and try to stop it.”