The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is investigating after a drone dropped a suspected firearm at a medium-security prison in Mission, B.C., prompting a lockdown of the facility on Thursday.
According to the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO), a drone dropped what is suspected to be a firearm along with other contraband like cellphones and drugs at the Mission Institution, which is managed by the CSC.
Officials ordered an "exceptional search" of the federal prison, located about 75 kilometres east of Vancouver.
"The search was ordered to ensure the safety and security of the institution, its staff, and inmates," said the CSC in a release.
CBC reached out to the CSC, who declined an interview but said in a statement later Friday that the incident "has now been resolved" and a search of the prison is ongoing "in an effort to find any contraband or unauthorized items to ensure the safety and security of the institution."
John Randle, regional president of the UCCO, said in an interview that the threat at the Mission Institution was downgraded late Friday.
"From my understanding ... they've removed the ballistic threat so now they're searching for contraband," he said, explaining that CSC was likely looking for cellphones, drugs or other smaller weapons that may have been dropped in by a drone.
Drones a growing problem
Randle says drone technology continues to rapidly advance and the unmanned aircraft are now capable of carrying heavier payloads — close to five kilograms — which means they can transport more materials.
"Some institutions across the country are seeing at least one drone drop a day — if not more," he said.
"In our region ... every few days we're seeing a drone drop of some sort."
He says it's hard for correctional facilities to keep up with the technology, and that they need more staff and bigger budgets to be able to effectively address drones.
He said drone drops are happening "at an alarming rate" and called on federal officials to take more urgent action.
"Correctional officers at Kent Institution, Mountain Institution, Matsqui Institution and Mission Institution have been working hard to detect and intercept drone drops before the contraband makes its way into the institutions," he said in an earlier statement.
"But it's time for CSC and the federal government to take this threat to all federal penitentiaries seriously."