|Drone Operator Sentenced For Attempting To Drop Drugs Into A Georgia Prison|
A Georgia man who was illegally operating an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to drop contraband into Autry State Prison was sentenced to 48 months in prison last week for his crime, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.
Eric Lee Brown, 35, of Lithonia, Georgia pleaded guilty to one count of operating an aircraft eligible for registration knowing that the aircraft is not registered to facilitate a controlled substance offense before U.S. District Court Judge Louis Sands on Thursday, July 25, 2019. The Honorable Judge Sands sentenced the defendant to 48 months in prison, followed by 3 years supervised release on Thursday, October 31, 2019. There is no parole in the federal system.
Mr. Brown admitted in his signed plea agreement that he attempted to use a drone to drop a large bag of marijuana into Autry State Prison in Pelham, Georgia. Mitchell County deputies responded to a call on March 29, 2018 about a vehicle impeding the flow of traffic near the prison. Mr. Brown was inside the vehicle, and deputies smelled marijuana and observed the drone. They also saw two clear plastic bags containing a green, leafy substance that later was confirmed to be 294 grams of marijuana. Mr. Brown was taken into custody. Search warrants revealed detailed conversations about using the drone to drop drugs into the prison. Mr. Brown did not register the DJI Phantom 4 drone which was found in his possession, and he also did not have a valid FAA Airman’s Certificate or Remote Pilot Certificate, both actions required by law.
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