A pair of men has been arrested and held by police in Georgia on charges they flew contraband – including 280 grams of meth and other drugs – into a state prison with a drone.
According to information tweeted by the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC), the two suspects were apprehended following a car chase with police responding to reports of a drone sighting over the Telfair State Prison. An ensuing search of the penitentiary grounds turned up 280 grams of meth, 283 grams of marijuana, a kilo of tobacco, four cellphones and chargers, a tube of epoxy, four saw blades, and cash.
A gun and ammunition were also found in the suspects’ car after it crashed, ending their flight from pursuing officers.
Use of drones to deliver drugs and other contraband into prisons has become a major plague for authorities around the US and abroad. Profits that can be made selling banned items on internal black markets have fueled the use of UAVs for aerial trafficking – a method unions representing guards say succeeds more often than thwarted, reducing risks of arrest by those behind the illegal missions.
Though hardly alone battling the problem, Georgia has witnessed fairly heavy numbers of drones attempting to drop drugs, phones, weapons, and other banned items into prisons. In 2019 alone, there were reports of over 300 UAVs operating near or over the state’s penitentiaries – facilities covered by formal no-flight prohibitions.
The increased incidence of drone deliveries of illegal substances to prisons prompted the GDC to undertake a general shakedown of its jails earlier this summer, turning up relatively large volumes of drugs among the 1,000 contraband items discovered. Those included 210 cellphones, 241 cellphone chargers, 647 weapons, 1.420 kilos of marijuana, 2.56 kilos of tobacco, 289.9 grams of methamphetamines, and 66.5 ounces of alcohol.
Given the scale and increased frequency of drones seeking to drop drugs and other banned material into prisons, the GDC has joined other facilities around the world turning to tech to detect and immobilize approach UAVs. To that end, the administration has teamed up with counter-drone specialist Dedrone, in one instance using the company’s DroneTracker solution to identify and seize a craft hauling contraband to the Autry State Prison.