Police in Argentina have shot a carrier pigeon that was spotted delivering contraband to a jail, prison authorities have revealed.
Suspicions were aroused when the bird was spotted flying in and out of the grounds of the jail in the central city of Santa Rosa over the course of several days.
After making a decision and shooting the bird down, officers discovered it was carrying a backpack, sewn into its feathers, containing sedative pills, marijuana and a USB drive, reports said.
A prison source told the Clarin newspaper: "It came with a small piece of fabric in the form of a backpack tied to it, the interior of which had narcotics, according to our test."
Officials released a picture of the dead pigeon with a white backpack containing 44 Rivotril, 7.5g (0.25 oz) of marijuana and the USB drive.
Officers arrested three inmates in the and discovered a loft which they were allegedly using to receive the small shipments of drugs carried by the birds.
The Argentine prisons service was already aware of the smuggling method and had warned in 2013 that traffickers were using pigeons to deliver drugs, some of which were making between 10 and 15 trips a day.
Three people were arrested and 15 pigeons were seized after the 2013 investigation, Clarín said.
Credit: Robert Claypool/Creative Commons
Earlier this year, authorities in Kuwait reportedly captured a pigeon carrying nearly 200 illegal pills in a tiny backpack.
The pills were believed to be a form of ketamine - an animal tranquiliser commonly taken as a recreational drug among party-goers.
It is believed drug smugglers used the animal to fly across the border from neighbouring Iraq.
There have been several other cases of pigeons being used as a means of transporting drugs, and the method appears to be becoming increasingly popular.
In 2015, prison guards in Costa Rica caught a pigeon carrying cocaine and cannabis hidden in a small zipped pouch.
And in 2011, Colombian police discovered a pigeon that was unable to fly over a high prison wall because of the weight of a package of cocaine and marijuana that was strapped to it.
Pigeons have been used to carry messages since Roman times, using their powerful homing ability.
Racing pigeons can return to their lofts from distances of hundreds of kilometres, making them the perfect unwitting participants in transporting small amounts of illegal substances over long distances.
Source: The Independent
Featured Image Credit: Argentine Federal Penitentiary Service