Night-Flying Drones Are an Enigma to Colorado Law Enforcement

The sight of multiple drones flying together in formation or in groups can be terrifying, particularly when authorities don’t know the source. Law enforcement in four Colorado counties reported mystery drone sightings last week and still have no clue as to the source.

Sheriffs in Phillips, Lincoln, Yuma and Washington Counties were trying to crack the mystery when sightings spread to three other counties in Colorado and in nearby Deuel County in Nebraska. 

The sightings have all happened between 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. and were first confirmed in a Facebook post on December 21 by Phillips County Sheriff, Thomas Elliott.

The sheriff posted that the drones are flying at about 300 to 400 feet in groups of 6 to 10. Elliott told the Denver Post on Monday that the drones, estimated to have six-foot wingspans, have been flying over Phillips and Yuma counties every night for about the last week.

Elliott also told the Post, “The drones stay about 200 feet to 300 feet in the air and fly steadily in squares of about 25 miles. There are at least 17 drones; they emerge each night around 7 p.m. and disappear around 10 p.m. They’ve been doing a grid search, a grid pattern. They fly one square and then they fly another square.”

The sheriff’s office can’t explain where the drones are coming from or who is flying them. The estimated size and number of drones makes it unlikely that they’re being flown by hobbyists, Undersheriff William Myers told the newspaper.


The Post reports that the Federal Aviation Administration had no information on the drones. The Drug Enforcement Agency and the Air Force also told the newspaper that the drones do not belong to their agencies.

Drone Instructor Angel Andres Rosado told kdvr in Denver that it appeared to him that a company was performing some sort of mapping.

“When you hear one drone, somebody just got a new toy for Christmas and they don’t quite know the rules yet,” he says. “But when you hear 12 and they’re flying in formation? Someone’s doing some professional work out there, that’s my personal opinion anyway.”

He also said that if it were a company responsible for the drone sightings, they would need waivers to fly at night and in formation.

“If there’s 10 or 12 of them flying together, unless they have 10 or 12 drone operators, one for each one, they would require a special type of waiver,” said Rosado. “I would imagine that level of sophistication, to even control 12 drones at one time, requires some pretty advanced technology, some pretty smart people to do that. I would imagine, and I would hope, they’re doing it legally.”

According to Rasado, if a special waiver was granted, the operator would not be required to notify the FAA before every flight.

It appears that the flights are coordinated and quite sophisticated, sparking a number of conspiracy theories.

The sightings proximity to the gigantic Denver International Airport in conjunction with the belief that it houses a secret military annex beneath the airport have skeptics believing it is a secret military operation. Thousands of people have speculated on some of the more weirder anomalies of the DIA, including

“To conspiracy theorists, there are multiple factors pointing towards the likelihood of a military compound underneath DIA. For starters, the sheer size and cost of the airport just don’t add up. DIA was finished in February of 1995 – 16 months behind schedule and $2 billion over budget. Additionally, the airport sits on over 33,000 acres of land – an area bigger than San Francisco, Miami and Manhattan, respectively – while the second largest airport in the United States is the Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport is only about half that size, coming in at about 17,000 acres.”

While poking fun at conspiracy theorists, left-leaning Vice also published some of the stranger things about the DIA: “Like, say, a mural of a gas mask-donned, post-apocalyptic stormtrooper brandishing an assault rifle, towering over a legion of weeping nuns and a ruined chapel. Or an insane, demonic sculpture of a mustang with glowing red eyes. Or the two bronze-casted gargoyles hanging out over the baggage claims for literally no reason.”

The drone sightings took place in a cluster northeast of the DIA, with Phillips County a mere 2.5 hour drive away by car and the nearby U.S. Army Reserve Training Center.

The drones do not appear to be harassing citizens and may have a legitimate purpose, including secret military training.

However, the possibility that it was law enforcement training can probably be ruled out as those sheriffs who are attempting to get information on the drone sightings would most likely have been notified.

Law enforcement does engage in drone training for search and rescue scenarios involving lost persons, hostage situations, rapid deployment and other civilian operations. 

It is highly unlikely that the drones were commercial unmanned delivery drones. First, the drones were flying a grid pattern in a specific area—and at night when it is not allowed. Second, although these type of drones do fly at low altitude, current regulations require drones to fly no higher than 400 feet, travel no faster than 100 mph, and remain within the pilot’s line of sight.

No matter, the source of the drones remain an enigma to be solved. At, one resident of Yuma, Colorado posted that he was told the source of the drones was the Department of Homeland Security, however, this has not been confirmed: 

Dear Steve, We live in Yuma county Colorado on a farm near the town of
Wray. On Christmas morning my wife and I called our oldest son, to wish him and his family a Merry
Christmas. In the course of our conversation I mentioned to him about the
large drones being seen in Yuma and Phillips county and now yes even in
Washington and Lincoln counties. I mentioned how you and Dave were both
reporting on them. He was very interested as he follows your site as well.
He called me back on the evening of 12/26. His landlord is a
retired federal LEO [law enforcement officer] who was employed with the BLM [bureau of land management].
He told my son about the drones an said he would check into
it as he had a couple of close friends who were still active federal LEOs
but I don’t know what agency. This is what they told him as relayed back to
me via my son. The drones are DHS and yes they are looking for guns but
more specifically large caches of weapons that may even be stored
underground. The drones have the technology to detect metal piping as well
as hollow spaces underground such as cellars, bunkers etc. Interesting
because a gun is basically a metal pipe. So as I understand they are
looking for cellars and bunkers with large caches of weaponry. Now this is
where it gets WEIRD! They stated, that this was
being done in preparation for an event or events that would cause the
capitol to be moved from Washington DC to Denver but I have no idea what
that event would be. (nuclear attack?…civil war?…tsunami?…invasion?)
I realize that this is third party info so make of it what you will. I personally have
not seen these drones but then I am an early to bed kind of guy. I do know
of a lady who lives in the country near the tiny town of Laird, Co. (very
near me) who was awakened by one of these drones looking in her living room
window and one of my coworkers tells me she has pictures of it on her cell
phone. I have not seen them but I would certainly like to. Anyway that is
all I have and feel free to relay this info to Dave if you see fit. God
bless you and keep up the good work. B.

Drone technology has been developed that does, in fact, have the capability to detect guns, and if it were the DHS, it wouldn’t be the first time they have behaved in alarming ways. Remember that stockpile they acquired of 1.6 billion rounds of hollow-point ammunition?

Drones employing a crossing pattern are surveying a property or a facility, and the military has used drones to locate weapons caches in Iraq and other countries. Colorado is home to a number of militia’s who have been labeled as terrorists by the SPLC, so it wouldn’t be too much of a conspiracy stretch for a government agency to be gathering intelligence on any one or more of them.

Even more mysterious was Sheriff William Meyers statement about one drone. Myers told Fox31, “On Friday, Myers said he watched eight of the large drones flying along the Yuma County border near the intersection of U.S. 385 and County Road 54. At the same time, a single drone hovered about 25 miles away over the town of Paoli — it didn’t move all night, just hovered over the town — and eight more drones flew over Haxtun, about 10 miles down the road from Paoli.”

Located in northeastern Colorado in Phillips County, Paoli is part of the agricultural region that borders the rural counties of Sedwick, Logan and Yuma. As of July 2019, Paoli had just 41 residents, making it even more curious as to what the drones could possibly be mapping after daylight, though it’s unlikely they were mapping farm equipment and silos.

It appears that the drone hovering over Paoli was watching for something or someone, but that—just as are a number of other possible theories—is pure conjecture. 

Law enforcement just does not know the purpose of the drones, but we should all remain vigilant as U.S. citizens to monitor what our agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Land Management and federal law enforcement agencies are up to and insist on government accountability and transparency.