Drone confiscated, arrested, put on trial, found guilty, never visit this country!

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Hello flyers.

Below is the story of my arrest by corrupt customs agents in the tiny country of Macedonia (north of Greece). People with drones in their luggage are being targeted by corrupt customs police as the resale value within the country is up to 5 times the retail value.

This is the story of how my car was stopped, my belongings confiscated and then the resulting trial, imprisonment, and conviction I faced, just for driving to the country with my Phantom 3. I wasn't even flying, just heading to Germany from Greece in a rental car!

Be warned.......and be scared.....very scared.....in Macedonia. I was tried in kangaroo court with 4 other drone owners and the customs depot is filled with drones just waiting to be sold by the police who first pocket your available cash then keep your goods.

 
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Thing is, drone flying is legal (in theory) there and I even met an avid Macedonia drone flyer during my trial. But the police know that they can make a fortune selling confiscated drones on the black market so if they find them in your luggage or maybe even out flying, they can exert any power they want to take them from you, as happened to me. Really shocking, scary and frustrating experience.
 
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Thing is, drone flying is legal (in theory) there and I even met an avid Macedonia drone flyer during my trial. But the police know that they can make a fortune selling confiscated drones on the black market so if they find them in your luggage or maybe even out flying, they can exert any power they want to take them from you, as happened to me. Really shocking, scary and frustrating experience.
This needs European media attention. This needs to be brought to light. Sounds like a good news story to me. One person can blatantly carry his DJI backpack with his DJI OSMO on the streets of macedonia :) and have a hidden camera setup and ready to record this corruption. This way, everyone will know.
 
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Yikes. We will make sure we never go there. Is there anything that can be done to spread this information further? Could the US state department have a travel warning for people going here or something?
 
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Wow. Sorry to hear that. I am guessing the customs people at the airport are tipping off the police for a small cut in the illegal drone sales. Is there any rules stating that drones can not be carried in luggage? Really research this as you may have a case to put towards them

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Just watched the whole footage from start to finish. I really couldn't believe just how corrupted they were, and even your translator was ashamed to be in that country. I can see how you and everyone else was so powerless with no hope of anything being returned. Thank you so much for sharing as i am sure they will be people touring near there and need to know. Would you re-post this again at the start of the summer holidays next year as a lot of people will be taking their drones and this will be a great reminder to actually be careful. Can't believe tourist actually took their own lawyer to the boarder...and still got their goods taken

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One thing I was waiting for during the re-telling was when you contacted the American Embassy...didn't you? If not then why not?
Any time I've had the slightest concern while traveling I've found them to be a very powerful advocate.
 
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Well I shall avoid Macedonia. My 'tourist' money is worth more than a drone. Hope they go bust - yet again, another country hoping to join the 'EU' ignoring the law. But then the whole place is corrupt.


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Hello flyers.

Below is the story of my arrest by corrupt customs agents in the tiny country of Macedonia (north of Greece). People with drones in their luggage are being targeted by corrupt customs police as the resale value within the country is up to 5 times the retail value.

This is the story of how my car was stopped, my belongings confiscated and then the resulting trial, imprisonment, and conviction I faced, just for driving to the country with my Phantom 3. I wasn't even flying, just heading to Germany from Greece in a rental car!

Be warned.......and be scared.....very scared.....in Macedonia. I was tried in kangaroo court with 4 other drone owners and the customs depot is filled with drones just waiting to be sold by the police who first pocket your available cash then keep your goods.

Thats just....I cant even think of what to say. To bad we dont have a code to put in and brick it as soon as it connects to the internet. I guess the only good thing is the Mavic and the Phantom 4 Pro are being released. Better to replace your drone after the new ones just come out instead of just before they release. Thanks for the info and sorry to hear how they robbed you!
 
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Thats just....I cant even think of what to say. To bad we dont have a code to put in and brick it as soon as it connects to the internet. I guess the only good thing is the Mavic and the Phantom 4 Pro are being released. Better to replace your drone after the new ones just come out instead of just before they release. Thanks for the info and sorry to hear how they robbed you!
If I followed the video correctly, they took everything, not just the drone? I also carry an expensive camera (or two) when I travel, not to mention money. It sounds like the guy would have gone through this for anything he had, since hundreds of people were being detained yet I'm sure most of them couldn't possibly have drones.

Can the OP contact the embassy? Maybe someone should put signs up at the borders (in the other countries) warning drivers that all their stuff could be taken and they could be arrested for doing nothing wrong. Yeah I know, difficult to pull that off... I'm just wondering how people can help. A drone board is a start, but most people don't have drones. Maybe warnings on tripadvisor or other popular sites used by people researching a trip? I dunno....
 
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Sad story, sorry for what happened...

Somebody posted your story on a french forum and I felt very concerned by your story as I planned to came to Macedonia (and other Balkans countries) back in september with my Phantom 3 Advanced....... but had to stop and cancel my roadtrip because my car broke down in Serbia (maybe I was lucky after all...).

I posted your story on an other forum (which isn't about drones) where there's a lot of people from all Europe and even Balkans and a Macedonian guy told that this was probably more an official thing as they even talked about your drones on local press....

Дронови, дрога, парфеми, пари: Што и како заплени македонската Царина? (ФОТО)

Real shame for the experience of this guy, but here is an article where the police says that the drones were confiscated (the article is in Macedonian).


– 3 дронови, откриени во два одвоени случаи на граничниот премин Меџитлија, при контрола на два автомобили пријавени за влез во државата.

Во првиот случај, во пластични кутии сместени во багажникот на француски автомобил, управуван од американски државјанин, биле пронајдени 2 дронови.

Во вториот случај, во багажникот на грчки автомобил, управуван од грчки државјанин бил пронајден 1 дрон.


Quick translation:

3 drones were found in two separate cases on the border crossing Medzitlija.

In the first case, in plastic boxes in a french car, operated by American citizen, were found 2 drones.

In the second case, in a Greek car operated by Greek citizen was found one drone.



I'm not saying that the officers are not corrupted, but it seems to me that this guy is dramatizing too much. In the last year due to several incidents with drones, the authorities are more strict considering the drones.

If they wanted to sell the drones, why would they reported them to the media? It doesn't make sense to me.
I asked him if he heard about a macedonian law that would confirm that, but he didn't respond yet....

I think that this is interesting, I guess that he's right, if it was pure corruption, they would'nt put in on the press and they probably wouldn't take you to Skopje for a trial where they are no more in their isolated border control... :(
 
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Thanks for the warning, another place I shall put on my "never visit" list. Isn't Macedonia also a hotbed of internet fraudsters?
 
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I'm so sorry that happened to you. That really boiled my blood. WTF. No one should go through this. F**ed up country. Shameless pigs. How can we spread this more so other tourists don't go there?
 

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