According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, a drone that crashed in the yard of the Washington State Prison was carrying cell phones, tobacco, oxycodone, and weed. While that drone wasn’t able to successfully deliver its payload, the use of drones to get contraband inside prison walls is becoming a growing problem for authorities.
The struggle is real
A spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Corrections said the drone crashed to the ground at the prison, near Davisboro in east Georgia, around 10:45 pm on Monday.
The drone was said to be carrying four Samsung Galaxy J1 smart phones, just under eight ounces of tobacco (spilt between two baggies), a USB charger cable, 31 C-230 oxycodone pills, and almost a pound of weed, which was divided into 16 individual bags – that all adds up to a lot of fun in prison.
For decades, the state prison system has struggled to stop contraband from getting inside prison walls, since inmates are constantly finding new ways to beat the systems that are put in place to stop them.
Just like other industries – legal and illegal – technology is being used to make life easier, with drones being the latest way of sneaking in drugs and other contraband.
Even though cannabis is in demand in Georgia prisons, it is tobacco that has the most significant markup. Like illegal drugs, tobacco is not permitted in the state’s prisons, which has created a new black market. The same goes for cell phones, too, another hot ticket item.
The demand was so high that, in the last year alone, officers seized nearly 10,000 cellphones from inmates and visitors (the latter who were caught attempting to smuggle to friends or family members inside). The 9,379 cellphones were confiscated from all 67 Georgia correctional facilities, which are either secure prisons or lower-level facilities.
The most common way to such banned items to inmates to pay visitors or correctional officers to sneak it in, or have the packages thrown over the perimeter fences, which led to the next step in smuggling: drones.
Just how often are drones being used for the job? That’s not known, since the exact number cannot be tracked, due to the high-tech delivery system only being discovered when and if the drone crashes into fences or prison yards. One such occasion led to the arrest of four people in 2013, which were trying to smuggle in two pounds of tobacco, in Morgan, Georgia.