( 4UMF NEWS ) Two Busted Trying To Fly Contraband Into Prison:
Two people allegedly trying to use a drone to smuggle drugs, tobacco and pornography into a maximum-security prison in Maryland have been arrested, officials said.
The two suspects were found on property adjacent to the Western Correctional Institution and the North Branch Correctional Institution in Allegany County with a drone, various contraband items and a handgun in their possession, according to authorities.
Investigators displayed the drone at the press conference at the Patuxent Institution in Jessup on Monday morning.
The arrests on Saturday near Cumberland highlight a growing problem for prison operators nationwide as they struggle to get ahead of the mini-helicopter technology. Officials have also reported prison contraband smuggling attempts involving drones in South Carolina and Ohio.
The Yuneec Typhoon model seized from the men’s vehicle has a cargo capacity of 6 to 8 ounces, police said. That’s enough to carry the packages of tobacco, synthetic marijuana, prescription narcotics and pornographic DVDs seized in the arrest, but not enough to hoist the pistol that police said was also found with the men.
Larger drones exist that could carry a gun, said Stephen T. Moyer, secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
“That’s my biggest fear,” he told a news conference. “The use of these drones to bring this type of contraband into a facility is very, very troubling, and we’re going to address it.”
Moyer said he will ask the General Assembly to fund the installation of drone-detection technology at state prisons. The radar-like technology would cost $350,000 to $400,000 per prison. The technology is not needed at all 24 facilities the state operates, but about 20 could be eligible, corrections department spokesman Gerard Shields said.
Moyer said the investigation began several weeks ago, enabling authorities to arrest the men near the Western Correctional Institution, a nearly 1,700-bed institution in the Appalachian Mountains about 120 miles west of Baltimore.
Officials said the arrest were the state’s first on charges of attempting to use a drone to deliver contraband to a Maryland prison.
The men arrested outside the prison are Thaddeus Casimir Shortz, 25, of Knoxville, and Keith Brian Russell, 29, of Silver Spring. Both have served prison time for assault. Russell was convicted on a narcotics charge in 2014, according to online court records.
No defense attorneys are listed for the men in court records. Private attorneys who represented them in the past said they had not been retained for this case.
Shortz was released on bail Sunday. Russell was being held at the Allegany County jail Monday with bail set at $100,000.
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