PHOENIX, Ariz. - The Arizona Department of Corrections said a drone tried to deliver cell phones and illegal drugs to a state prison in Buckeye, Ariz.
ADC confirmed in the early morning of September 24, a homemade aerial drone unsuccessfully attempted to deliver illegal contraband items at ASPC-Lewis in Buckeye. It crashed in a “no man’s land” security zone that is inaccessible to inmates. Correctional Officers discovered the wreckage and confiscated the items, which included multiple cell phones and narcotics.
Arizona Department of Corrections said investigators have sent items to the state crime lab for fingerprint and DNA analysis, but are otherwise unable trace its origin, or intended destination, at this time.
This was the first known encounter of a drone at an Arizona state prison. However, the department has paid close attention to the challenges faced by other states already contending in recent years with drone-delivered contraband.
Illegal contraband, however it’s delivered, is a very serious concern for ADC and correctional institutions nationwide because it poses a significant risk to employees and the safe and secure operations of the prison. Contraband cell phones are highly desired by inmates seeking to conduct street gang activity and other ongoing criminal business with the outside.
Airspace around prisons is already federally restricted and flying a drone near or over a prison is prohibited. Importing drugs and cell phones into a prison is a felony crime, and the department will seek prosecution of anyone responsible for such activity.
The department is evaluating existing technology that could potentially help combat drones, but there is no better existing weapon against the importation of illegal contraband in correctional facilities than heightened staff awareness and vigilance. ADC said their correctional officers do an excellent job at that already, which may explain why bad guys are turning to new methods such as drones to try to get illegal contraband inside prisons.
ADC employees are mindful of how dangerous illegal contraband is, and ADC said iinvestigators continually monitor the inmate population for intelligence that can help prevent its importation into state institutions.