This Could Be the Greatest Drone-Powered iPhone Heist Ever

Photo: Kin Cheung (AP)

The future is here, and it’s cool as shit if you love heist movies.

In the most incredible gang operation gone wrong of 2018, smartphone smugglers in China were busted by customs officers in Shenzhen, but not before moving 500 million yuan ($79.8 million) worth of stolen smartphones, and using drones to pull it off, the Legal Daily reported on Friday.


It gets better.

Shenzhen Customs held a press conference to announce the arrest occurring along the Shenzhen-Hong Kong border and explain how drones were employed to setup a transportation method for the stolen goods. And here is where I imagine act one of this amazing film begins.

The smugglers, part of a team of gangs working together, would sneak new and refurbished smartphones, including iPhones, from rented high-rise residential buildings facing the proper direction in Shenzhen, granting them a direct line to their smuggling destination in Hong Kong. Drones were used to transport wires from the buildings in Shenzhen to a construction site across the river, in Hong Kong, where someone retrieved the line and set up the pulley system used to move the smuggled goods.

Operating from midnight to around 5am, the smugglers were reportedly able to move up to 15,000 phones a night across the 660-foot lines. With up to four to five people working each line, they would place up to 10 smartphones in a canvas bag, attach it to the wire, and use the pulley to move it across the river in seconds. When they were done, they would simply disconnect and hide the line, and proceed to package and ship the stolen wares to other locations. Surprisingly, the operation was apparently unnoticed by everyone except investigators, who reportedly mobilized with over 260 policemen divided into 29 teams to simultaneously capture the 26 suspects.


All told, Shenzhen Customs seized 4,000 smartphones, as well as the smuggling operation’s cache of equipment, including drones, fishing lines, and iron winches. The operation was coordinated by a group of gangs headed by Wu Mou, who was arrested after arriving in Huanggang Port.

According to a reporter interviewing residents in the area about any irregular activity, all of them claimed to be unaware of the pretty elaborate smuggling operation.


Because they ain’t snitches.

[Legal Daily]


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