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Criminals Use Drones to Deliver Contraband

Crime

Drone carries package | Image by Shutterstock

Criminals in North Texas are using drones to deliver contraband to prisons.

Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham announced that a Smithville man was arrested and charged for using a drone to drop drugs and other contraband into a federal prison.

Bryant LeRay Henderson, 42, allegedly flew a DJI Inspire drone into the airspace over FMC Fort Worth just before midnight on May 4. The drone crashed inside a fenced-in yard near the prison’s HVAC shop.

Facility staff recovered the drone and found a package containing 46 grams of crystal methamphetamine, 87 grams of pressed THC, two prepaid smartphones, and nine mp3 players.

“Contraband drone deliveries are quickly becoming the bane of prison officials’ existence,” said Meacham in the release. “Illicit goods pose a threat to guards and inmates alike.”

“When it comes to cell phones, the threat often extends outside prison walls,” he added. “We are determined to stop this trend in its tracks.”

“The criminal element will always take advantage of new opportunities for illegal activity as technology progresses,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno.

“In this instance, excellent collaborative investigation among federal and local agencies led to multiple federal charges and prevented contraband from entering the federal prison system,” DeSarno explained.

This is not the first attempt to use a drone to deliver contraband to federal prisons.

Two men were arrested in Georgia in 2019 for plotting to use a drone to deliver tobacco, ammunition, and cell phones to Telfair State Prison. Police stopped the vehicle of the two men 100 yards outside of the prison.

The contraband was stuffed in a duffle bag along with a 1.9-pound drone, a video monitor with a DVR headset, and other items.

Their alleged plan was to fly the drone over the prison’s walls, drop the contraband, and fly away undetected.

One of the first federal prosecutions involving drones entering prison air space was when Eric Lee Brown attempted to drop marijuana into another Georgia state prison in 2018.

After cooperating with prosecutors, Brown pled guilty and was sentenced to four years imprisonment.

Drones are considered aircraft under federal law and fall under the authority of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA restricts flight in the airspace over airports, stadiums, and other private and government facilities.

As Dallas law enforcement increases drone usage in the fight against crime, criminals will likely use them increasingly to commit crimes as well.

However, not all drone delivery flights in the Lone Star State are launched for nefarious purposes. Drones are also used in Texas to deliver consumer supplies, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

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