Authorities foil drone-delivery of porn, drugs and gun to Maryland prison

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Authorities stop drone delivery at Maryland prison 01:27

Story highlights

  • Authorities had surveillance on a man who was driving near a Cumberland, Maryland, prison
  • They found the drone, a gun and various contraband in his vehicle, a state agency says

(CNN)Want to get a handgun, some synthetic marijuana and porn into a prison?

Two men in Maryland allegedly tried to do just that -- by remote controlled aircraft -- though their plot never got off the ground, authorities said Monday.
The pair was found Saturday on a side road that runs alongside the Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland with the aircraft -- which officials called a drone -- in their vehicle, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services announced in a press release.
    But officials don't think they were planning a joy ride.
    Not after what else they found in the vehicle, which they suspect the two men planned to fly over onto the WCI's grounds. One tweet from the state agency apparently shows the bounty: packets of K2 (or synthetic marijuana), tobacco, suboxone, pornographic DVDs and a handgun laid out on a table next to the four-propellered miniature aircraft.
    "This is the first case in Maryland where a drone is suspected in a contraband delivery plot," state Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Stephen Moyer told reporters.
    The vehicle's owner had been under surveillance for some time. An intelligence officer at the western Maryland prison and a state corrections department detective suspected the owner and his associate along with at least one inmate planned to use an unmanned drone to drop off contraband at the prison.
    Corrections spokesman Mark Vernarelli told CNN on Monday that authorities are still looking at what connections, if any, both suspects have to specific inmates.
    The discovery Saturday of not just the drone, but the contraband, led authorities to arrest both men.
    Two days later, one of them was being held without bail, while the other was held on $250,000 bail.
    While this is apparently the first time someone has allegedly tried to fly illicit material onto prison or jail property, in Maryland, it has happened elsewhere.
    Late last month, for instance, a drone actually managed to drop 144.5 grams of tobacco, 65.4 grams of marijuana and 6.6 grams of heroin in the courtyard of Mansfield Correctional Institution in Ohio.
    Guards didn't know that, though, when they spotted 75 inmates congregating around one spot and a fight breaking out, according to an incident report from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
    Surveillance video later revealed what led to the fisticuffs: An unmanned aerial vehicle had flown over the yard and dropped the package.
    Ohio authorities said then that they'd be on the lookout for more attempts to use drones to smuggle drugs over prison walls and into inmates' hands.
    "It's something we're certainly aware of," said Ohio state corrections spokeswoman JoEllen Smith. "We're taking a broad approach to increasing staff awareness and detection."