Drone users arrested after drugs smuggled into prison for ‘easter egg hunt’

Two alleged members have been indicted on multiple charges after drugs were dropped in what one prosecutor described as "a prison easter egg hunt."

Michael Eugene Russell Williford Jr., 28, of East Cleveland, and 27-year-old Bryan Douglas Shepherd, of Richmond Heights, are accused of using a drone to drop packages of drugs and other contraband into the exercise yard of Warren Correctional Institution in in Lebanon, Ohio.

The packages had been smeared in superglue and grass to camouflage them after they fell into the yard.

“I would characterise it as a prison Easter egg hunt,” Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said.

Mr Fornshell did not reveal whether any inmates had obtained any of the packages before guards spotted them.

He added that the defendants were thought to be members of the Heartless Felons, a Cleveland-based drugs gang, and and had been smuggling the contraband to gang members inside the jail.

Prison staff first spotted a drone over the prison property in the early hours of July 30 last year, said Mr Fornshell. The drone’s control signal was then tracked to a hotel in Monroe, according to cincinatti.com.

The following month, another drone was seen leaving the hotel and that enabled police to identify Williford and Shepherd.

Fornshell said officers found drugs and packaging materials similar to those dropped in the prison yard, as well as video footage that showed the consignments being dropped off at the prison.

The pair were indicted by a Warren County grand jury on 23 counts including illegal conveyance of drugs of abuse onto grounds of specified government facility, aggravated trafficking in drugs, aggravated possession of drugs, possession of criminal tools and misdemeanour possession of drugs.

This is by no means the first time that drones have been used to smuggle drugs into a US prison.

As far back as 2015, officials from Mansfield Correctional Institution in north-central Ohio said a drone had dropped a package of drugs into the prison’s exercise yard causing a fight as inmates scrambled to secure the contraband.

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