The Raven, a U.S.-built spy drone
, is little more than a glorified model airplane with a camera. It has a range of just over six miles, has to be launched by hand (i.e., firing up the engine and throwing it into the air), and has no capacity to carry weapons of any kind. Still, it's military equipment, and thus subject to the Arms Export Control Act. A Philippine man named Henson Chua discovered that violating that act can result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years after he sold his spare Raven on eBay for $13,000
. The buyer: undercover Homeland Security agents who tracked Chua after making the purchase, and apprehended him when he traveled to Los Angeles last month.
After being indicted on March 10th by a grand jury, Chua is facing significant jail time for selling something a crafty hobbyist probably could have built in his back yard. Let this be a lesson: if you're going to get arrested for selling a military drone, at least make sure it's one capable of firing off a few Hellfire Missiles.