It’s not the first time a high-flying drone has flown over prison fences and delivered prohibited items to inmates, but the goodies found inside of the package that Ohio inmates received last week was enough to start a brawl.
The aerial visitor dropped a package of 144.5 grams of tobacco, 65.4 grams of marijuana and 6.6 grams of heroin into the prison yard of the Mansfield Correctional Institution, leading at least nine inmates to fight over the mind-altering substances. This amounts to enough tobacco for seven packs of smokes, 70 joints worth of marijuana, and a dollop of heroin.
If the heroin is half pure, the package amounts to about 140 individual doses, according to The Columbia Dispatch.
An investigation of video footage concluded that the drone dropped the package intended for an inmate on the north recreation yard, but it was then thrown over to the south recreation yard.
After two correction officers ordered a cease to the fight, they called for further assistance when the tussle continued, ultimately turning to pepper spray to subdue the inmates and control the situation. More than 200 prisoners from the north and south recreation yards were ordered into a gym, where they were strip-searched for any contraband and checked by a clinic before being able to return to their cells.
Nine inmates were placed in solitary confinement in result of the incident. No staff members or inmates were harmed, the department reported.
This is not the first time the Mansfield prison has had an incident with unmanned aerial vehicles, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections spokeswoman JoEllen Smith. She declined to comment further.
Prisons have experienced these aerial visitors in the past, but the use of drones to smuggle forbidden objects has become more common recently, according to Brian Hearing, co-inventor of a drone detection service called “Drone Shield.”
As retail websites have generated greater access to the machine that has been most commonly used for delivering prison contraband, people have become more aware of the drones’ capabilities. Its small size, cheap price and soundless travel make for an easy way to breach security and bypass the system. The top-selling drone on Amazon, which can also be used for smuggling, can be purchased for $400. Consumer sales are projected to skyrocket by the end of the year, according to Consumer Electronics Association.
While this method of smuggling has grown in popularity, lawmakers and prison authorities have considered ways to regulate the unmanned aircraft. (RELATED: FAA Regulations Could Stifle Commercial Drone Industry)
“It’s something we’re certainly aware of,” Smith said. “We’re taking a broad approach to increasing staff awareness and detection.”
Washington State Senator Pam Roach (R) introduced a bill in February that would add a year to prison sentences who use drug for illegal activities.
Some prisons have even looked to the website No Fly Zone, which allows individuals and businessmen to prevent drones from flying over their coordinates of private property or sensitive locations. The company coordinates with participating drone manufacturers to automatically rid drone access into the corresponding radius of the GPS address.
David McCauley of the Public Service Association in Melbourne, Australia, said that this method of delivery is a logical evolution for smugglers and will become harder to control in the near future. (RELATED: Smugglers Using Drones To Fly Drugs Across Mexican Border)