3 arrested after drone drops cell phone, drugs into Michigan prison

Drone dropped 2 packages into prison yard


IONIA, Mich. – Three people were arrested Thursday after an attempt to use a drone to bring a cell phone and drugs into a Michigan prison.

According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, two officers heard the sound of a drone at about 4 a.m. outside the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia.

The drone allegedly dropped a package in the prison yard near a housing unit. The drone later returned to drop a second package, authorities said.

Staff notified local law enforcement officers who were able to detain a vehicle and three individuals.

“Drones present a serious and constant threat to our prisons across the state. Our staff remain vigilant in their efforts to keep dangerous contraband from entering our facilities in all manners,” Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington said. “I am proud of the prompt and professional response of our staff and for the support and coordination with local law enforcement and the Michigan State Police to apprehend these individuals. Together, their actions kept not only our facility, staff and prisoners safe, but the surrounding community as well.”

This is one of the first occurrences in the nation where suspects were immediately arrested by law enforcement after allegedly introducing contraband into a prison facility, according to MDOC.

“We will continue to work with our partners in the law enforcement community to ensure they have what they need to successfully prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law,” Washington said. “We will also continue our efforts to aid lawmakers in their efforts to strengthen laws regarding drones and their ability to introduce dangerous contraband into our prisons.”

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