updated 3/31/2009 7:45:56 PM ET 2009-03-31T23:45:56

Inmates have devised an innovative way to smuggle cell phones into a prison farm in Brazil: carrier pigeons.

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Guards at the Danilio Pinheiro prison near the southeastern city of Sorocaba last week noticed a pigeon resting on an electric wire with a small cloth bag tied to one of its legs.

"The guards nabbed the bird after luring it down with some food and discovered components of a small cell phone inside the bag," police investigator Celso Soramiglio said Tuesday.

One day later, another pigeon was spotted dragging a similar bag inside the prison's exercise yard. Inside the bag was the cell phone's charger, Soramiglio said.

The birds were apparently bred and raised inside the prison, smuggled out, outfitted with the cell phone parts and then released to fly back.

"Pigeons instinctively fly back home, always," the investigator said.

Soramiglio said that police have not discovered who raised the pigeons or the name of the inmate who was going to receive the cell phone, but that he hoped the telephone carrier would provide the information.

"Some of them are members of organized crime groups that use cell phones to talk to family and friends and to give and receive orders for criminal actions outside and inside prisons," Soramiglio said.

In 2006, Sao Paulo's notorious First Capital Command used cell phones to coordinate a wave of assaults on police, banks and buses that left more than 200 people dead in South America's largest city.

The gang's leaders are based in prisons, and use smuggled cell phones to plan and execute drug deals, kidnappings and bank robberies.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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