Chinese fugitive: Police use drone to find man who had been on the run for 17 years

Police in China have managed to find and arrest a man they'd been hunting for 17 years — all thanks to a tiny, flying robot.

Song Jiang had been on the run since 2002, after he escaped from prison and spent nearly two decades evading recapture. Authorities said on the Chinese messenger app WeChat that they'd made several unsuccessful attempts to locate him during that time. 

But that changed earlier this month when officers received clues that Song was hiding near his hometown, in Southern China's Yunnan province. They searched the dense, tree-filled area for the fugitive — who was originally jailed on human trafficking charges — but couldn't find any traces of him.

But after requesting a drone to help in their search, police officers found a small hideout inside a nearby cave. The drone's camera showed a tiny shelter built into a cliffside, along with cooking and sleeping materials.

The search team moved in to capture Song, who they found hiding out in a space less than 21 feet in total size. Police said the cave was so small that an average person wouldn't be able to stand up inside. 

Song, now 63, was described as "an unkempt old man." He had reportedly been living alone in seclusion for some time and struggled to communicate with the officers who captured him.

Authorities also said Song had "devastated" his body during his time as a fugitive. They added that he hadn't showered or washed his clothes in "a long time." Chinese officials reported that Song is now being sent back to jail. 

Modern camera technology, such as drones and other versatile recording devices, have become increasingly important in solving certain types of crimes and mysteries. Last month, a 13-year-old in Canada used his GoPro camera to help police solve a 27-year-old cold case.

Meanwhile, a police department in Mexico managed to drop local crime rates by 10 percent after using drones for just a four-month stretch last year.

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