Mobile phones being smuggled into prisons is a worldwide problem, but Costa Rica may have recently became the first country where people are using “trained cats” to deliver cell phones into prisons.
On Tuesday morning, the Costa Rican Ministry of Justice released a video of a cat intercepted while trying to make its way into La Reforma prison, in Alajuela.
Footage shows the feline with a strange parcel strapped to its chest and tied around its neck. After struggling to remove the package from the animal, penitentiary staff cut it open and reveal that it contains a used mobile phone, as well as a charger, a replacement battery and earbuds.
The press office of the Costa Rican Ministry of Justice didn’t specify where exactly the cat was caught, or how staff managed to spot its valuable cargo, but it did state that it was the second “trained cat” intercepted by prison guards in the last couple of weeks.
But why would someone go through the trouble of training a cat to smuggle stuff into prison? Well, simply put, it’s safer than having human visitors do it and cheaper than bribing prison staff.
A couple of years ago, guards at another Costa Rican prison captured a “narco-pigeon” carrying 14 grams of cocaine and 14 grams of marijuana for someone on the inside.
Pigeons definitely have a higher chance of delivering their cargo, but they can only carry light loads. Cats, on the other hand, can apparently carry a full mobile phone kit with ease.
And phones are a valuable commodity for inmates, helping them coordinate their criminal business from the inside, pressure witnesses and even performing phone and email scams.
Costa Rica has been trying to ban cell phone reception in penitentiaries for years, but the proposed law has been stuck in constitutional arguments and legislative process since 2016.