Men Indicted in Drone Contraband Plot at Maryland Jail


Three men have been indicted by an Allegany County, Md., grand jury in a plot to use a drone to fly drugs, tobacco and pornography into a Maryland correctional facility last month, according to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS).

Thaddeus Casimir Shortz, 25, of Knoxville, and Keith Brian Russell, 29, of Silver Spring, face 39 felony and misdemeanor counts, ranging from possession and intent to deliver drugs, to possession of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime. The seven felony counts against the men each carry a penalty of five to 20 years in prison. They face at least three years in prison for each misdemeanor count and fines of up to $25,000 for each count.

Also indicted was Charles Westley Brooks, 43, an inmate at Western Correctional Institution (WCI) in Cumberland. Brooks is charged with 33 misdemeanor counts, including possession with intent to deliver contraband, drug possession with intent to distribute, and possession and receiving a telecommunications device. Brooks faces at least three years in prison for each count and fines of up to $25,000 for each count.

The incident occurred on Aug. 22 when law enforcement officials found Shortz and Russell parked on a road near WCI. The men were setting up their operation when they were intercepted by an allied law enforcement agency effort that included WCI intelligence, the DPSCS Internal Investigative Division, Cumberland Combined Criminal Investigations and the Maryland State Police.

The vehicle contained one drone with a remo1447_contraband_drone_maryland-300x257 Men Indicted in Drone Contraband Plot at Maryland Jailte, multiple pornographic DVDs, and large quantities of tobacco and the drug K2. A semi-automatic pistol was also recovered concealed in the vehicle. Shortz was apprehended without incident, and Russell was captured after attempting to flee and hide in a nearby dumpster. Cell phones and walkie-talkies were recovered from both suspects.

The arrests were the first involving an attempt to use a drone to deliver contraband to a Maryland facility, says DPSCS.

Shortz and Russell are former inmates. Both men served sentences for assault and are currently being held at the Allegany County Detention Center.

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