Swarm of Drones Disrupt FBI Hostage Operation

Criminals are weaponizing consumer Drones. Drones are playing a more significant role in robberies and the like. Beyond the well-documented incidence of house break-ins, criminal crews are using them to observe more substantial target facilities, spot security gaps, and determine patterns of life: where the security guards go and when.

It was reported last winter that an FBI hostage rescue team set up an elevated observation post to assess an unfolding situation. After a short while, the FBI heard the buzz of small drones. Within seconds, the agents in the observation post saw the small aircrafts swooping past in a series of high speed.

The head of the agency’s operational technology law unit, Joe Mazel said in the AUVSI Xponential conference that they were then blind. The group lost situational awareness of the target, and it presented some challenges.

Joe Mazel said that the drones weren’t just used to disorientate the FBI, though. According to Mazel, they were the crew’s eyes in the sky, pushing video to YouTube so the broader group could keep tabs on the FBI’s movements. This was an organized operation, too. The drones were brought into the area specifically to disrupt the FBI’s rescue efforts.

A similar situation of criminalizing consumer technology is by a group in Australia that used drones to watch port authority staff. If they get too close to one of the gang’s contraband-filled shipping containers, a fire or theft report is called in to redirect attention. Border scouts and drug mulling drones continue to be a problem, too. Just a few months ago, Chinese law enforcement said they’d shut down a smartphone smuggling ring that was responsible for illegally transporting nearly $80 million in handsets.

With hopes of tightening the screw on criminals with stricter regulations, the FAA is taking action. Angela Stubblefield, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Deputy Associate Administrator, it is stated in the most recent version of the FAA reauthorization bill that one would make it illegal to “weaponize” consumer drones.