Correctional staff and detectives from the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) and members of the Cumberland Combined Investigative task force have foiled what they believe to be Maryland's first case of a plot to use a drone to deliver contraband into a prison.
On Saturday night, Aug. 22., officers from Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland (WCI) spotted a vehicle along Hazmat Dr., a side road that runs off U.S. 220 alongside the state prison complex at Cresaptown, according to a release from DPSCS.
Inside the vehicle, responding law enforcement found a drone, a handgun and contraband and subsequently arrested both occupants of the vehicle.
According to DPSCS, the vehicle’s owner had been under surveillance for some time, as intelligence officers from WCI and detectives from the Intelligence and Investigative unit of DPSCS suspected this person, along with at least one inmate, of plotting to use the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to drop contraband at WCI.
According to an Associated Press report, the UAS was a Yuneec Typhoon, and the contraband included “tobacco, synthetic marijuana, prescription narcotics and pornographic DVDs.” The report says one suspect has been released on bail, and the other is still in Allegany County jail on a $100,000 bond, as of press time.
Stephen T. Moyer, secretary of DPSCS, is now looking into drone-detection software for the department’s prisons, AP says.
Commenting on the interception of the drone and subsequent arrest of the two suspects, Gov. Larry Hogan states, “I commend the members of the investigative task force, as well as the dedicated correctional employees who assisted in this investigation.
“Keeping our prisons safe and free of contraband will always be a priority of our administration, and I am confident Secretary Moyer and all of our law enforcement agencies will continue doing everything possible to ensure this happens.”
Maryland State Police Superintendent William Pallozzi adds, “The work by state police, DPSCS, Allegany County Sheriff’s Office and Cumberland Police was thorough and prevented what we believe would have been a dangerous and significant contraband delivery.”
Photos courtesy of DPSCS