This is how the DEA used it to intercept drug trafficking suspects

The DEA or Drug Enforcement Agency from the United States, has a very tough job. Their job is to detect and intercept any illegal drug trafficking that might enter the country, which may involve extensive searches and operations bordering on military intervention. It is dangerous and delicate work.

What we didn’t think of is this the DEA would resort to something as simple as an AirTag to locate what may be an illegal drug distribution center. And according to Forbes findings, that’s exactly what happened almost a year ago.

A GPS is more obvious and can fail, an AirTag is more reliable

A search warrant, which the outlet had access to, shows DEA agents intercepted two suspicious packages coming from Shanghai in May 2022. Within them, they discovered machines necessary to compact powders and make them into pills, raising suspicions that they might have been intended for the manufacture of medicinal tablets.

Then the agency had an idea: instead of confiscating the equipment, they let it get to its destination. Not without hiding an AirTag in one of the machines. That way they could not only know if the package had reached its destination, but also where they were moving the machine to work with it.

Why did they use an AirTag and not a more accurate GPS tracker? We don’t know, but a detective who spoke to the source thinks these GPSs can make mistakes and it costs more to hide them. An AirTag is small, easily concealed and does not arouse the suspicion of human traffickers.

It’s the first time an agency like the DEA has used an AirTag in its cases.

We don’t know what ultimately happened to those involved, but what is known is that the state of Massachusetts took legal action against the suspect who received the package. It could have been a simple tip, or there could have been a drug scam somewhere.

But regardless of that, it is like that the first time (that we know of) that an agency uses an AirTag to clarify a suspected case. It would be a use that Apple does not recommend, but it ends up happening, as we have also seen with AirTags on pets or even children. Neither the DEA nor Apple have commented to Forbes.

Lufthansa is backing down: Carrying an AirTag on its flights will no longer be prohibited in future

Moral: The AirTag has some recommended uses, but it’s also useful for those that aren’t officially recommended. Apple itself has had to take additional measures because it is precisely in these non-recommended uses that some have seized the opportunity to use AirTags fraudulently.

image | Miguel Lopez with MidJourney

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