US agency uses AirTag in anti-drug investigation

We have already reported many stories in which the AirTags appeared in the police pages, mainly after reports of chases using the smart tracker of the Apple. In the case that we are going to show you today, however, the accessory ended up being used as a ally in an anti-drug operation.

According to the Forbes, it all started in May last year, when two packages from Shanghai (China) were intercepted at the US border. Inside were a pill press, a machine used to compress powder into capsules, and the dyes used in them.

As the agents soon deduced that the packages were destined for an illegal drug manufacturer, they called the Drug Enforcement Administration (Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA) in the country, which opted to continue the case in a not-so-conventional way.

Instead of simply impeding the flow of the package, they placed an AirTag inside the pill press in order to track the criminals’ movements. According to the magazine, everything indicates that this was the first public case in which a federal agency used the Apple tracker as a surveillance device.

Everything indicates that the decision was made both because the AirTag is more accurate and because it is easier to hide it from other trackers. In the warrant that authorized the device’s use, an agent noted that “correct location information” would allow investigators to obtain accurate evidence about the criminal scheme.

The text gave the DEA permission to monitor the AirTag for 45 days, both in the District of Massachusetts and in any state in the country. It is not yet possible to know to what extent the device helped the agents with the investigation – although the potential recipient of the packages has been indicted by the state government.


It is necessary to consider the possibility that AirTag itself “snitched” the work of the investigators, since — precisely to inhibit persecution — they have been emitting a sound signal and/or a notification on the smartphone of someone who is potentially being followed for a long time .

A few months before the warrant was issued, Apple announced a series of changes to take these anti-stalking measures even further — such as the adoption of a louder audible alert on the AirTag and more effective unwanted tracking alerts on iPhones.

As noted by 9to5Mac, some of these features hadn’t even been released until May of last year. If all were in place, they would likely thwart agents’ attempts to track criminals using the AirTag.

We can also question the extent to which the use of the device infringed Apple’s own rules. Although it was attached to an object, like it or not, it ended up being used to discover the location of people – which is rejected by the Apple.

Neither the company nor the DEA have commented on the operation.


TRANSPARENCY NOTE: The MacMagazine You receive a small commission from sales completed through links in this post, but you, as a consumer, pay nothing more for products you purchase through our affiliate links.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.