The United States Department of Justice has charged two New Jersey men with using drones to sneak drugs and other contraband into a federal prison in Burlington County.
The two men, Nicolo Denichilo, 38, and Adrian Goolcharran, 35, smuggled items including marijuana, steroids, cell phones, SIM cards, and syringes into the prison in Fort Dix, New Jersey, according to the US Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey.
The prison, known as FCI Fort Dix, is a “low security federal correctional institution” that houses more than 3,000 inmates, according to its website.
Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Sue Allison declined to comment because the case is a pending prosecution.
Law enforcement officials attempted to arrest Denichilo and another unnamed individual near the prison Thursday, after prison officials saw a drone flying over one of the prison’s housing units, federal prosecutors said in a statement. The two men fled, but only Denichilo was captured, it said.
The Fort Dix prison officials also discovered an inmate near the drone drop site in possession of more than 30 cell phones and 50 SIM cards, among other phone equipment, the statement said.
Denichilo has been released on $100,000 bond. It was not immediately clear who represented Denichilo at his pretrial hearing.
Meanwhile, authorities say Goolcharran, who goes by Adrian Ajoda and Adrian Ahoda, remains at large.
Authorities allege Goolcharran used cell phones to coordinate the drops with others, and that prison surveillance footage shows a man fitting his description flying a drone last week. Goolcharran brought multiple drones to a store for repairs shortly after, they said in the statement.
In April 2019, authorities said local police pulled over Denichilo and Goolcharran less than five miles away from the prison on the same day another drone delivery was discovered.
In the release, authorities said they obtained evidence of at least seven drone deliveries since July 2018 at the prison. A fingerprint from Denichilo and DNA from Goolcharran was also recovered, the statement said.
The DOJ charged both men each with one count of smuggling contraband into the prison, and conspiring to smuggle contraband and defraud the United States.
The first count carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine, while the conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, plus a maximum fine of $250,000.