AirTag Used by Federal Agents to Bust Illegal Narcotics Manufacturer

The United States Drug Enforcement Agency last year used an AirTag to track illegal drug making paraphernalia sent from China to a narcotics manufacturer in the U.S., according to information from a search warrant that was shared by Forbes.

Border agents in May 2022 intercepted two packages from China, which included a pill press and pill dyes. They suspected the equipment was headed to a drug dealer and notified the DEA. The DEA opted to stick an AirTag inside the package to track its movements, which appears to be the first time an AirTag has been used in such a way.

The search warrant does not provide details on why the DEA opted to use an AirTag over another kind of GPS-based tracking device, but it mentioned that the “precise location information” would let investigators “obtain evidence about where such individuals store drugs and/or drug proceeds, where they obtain controlled substances, and where else they distribute them.”

A retired detective that spoke to Forbes speculated that the DEA may have used an AirTag because it offers more reliable connectivity than other devices, or because of past failures of the GPS devices available to police.

AirTags have built-in anti-tracking functions that may not make them suitable for use for this kind of tracking. They are designed to play a sound when away from an owner for a short period of time, and can also be located using the Find My app on iPhone or the Tracker Detect app for Android.

The recipient of the package was ultimately not charged in federal court, but he did end up being charged by the state of Massachusetts where the package was delivered.

Tag: AirTags
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