A fugitive on the run for more than 17 years was arrested from a remote cave in the hills in southwest China after a police drone spotted his hideout.

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Song Jiang, 63, was arrested in for women and child trafficking but broke out of a prison camp in 2002.
Song’s trail, however, ran cold and he disappeared despite the efforts of the Yongshan police in southwest China’s Yunnan province to track him down.

It was earlier this month that the Yongshan police received information that a man had been spotted in a remote and hilly location on the outskirts of Yongshan. Soon after, search parties were deployed to comb the hilly areas near the town.

The police personnel failed to track or find the person. It was then decided to deploy drones to get a clear view of the jungle-covered hilltop. The drones helped the police track the densely forested hills.

After several hours of search, the drones spotted a small cave littered with household rubbish and a blue-coloured steel tile, according to the news agency, China News Service. Subsequently, a second party of police personnel were sent up the hill on foot and found an emaciated Song inside the cave where he had been hiding for years.

State media reports said that Song had cut off ties with society soon after escaping from prison and lived in seclusion for more than 17 years. Police found it difficult to communicate with him.

Song drank water from a nearby river and lit fires with tree branches, the state media report said. Song has been sent back to jail.