According to CNN, the two suspects are 38-year-old Nicolo Denichilo and 35-year-old Adrian Goolcharran. The pair allegedly used the high-tech method to deliver items such as marijuana, steroids, syringes, and phones into FCI Fort Dix, a prison in Burlington County, New Jersey.
The charges against the pair include smuggling contraband into the prison, conspiring to smuggle contraband, and defrauding the federal government.
Though the prison has been described as a “low security federal correctional institution,” it is nevertheless a major breach and embarrassment for the institution, which currently has as many as 3,000 inmates. Worse still, the high-tech scheme had been reportedly going on for nearly two years, since at least July 2018. Officials estimate that at least seven drops had been made in total.
The two were caught after authorities followed the most recent drone and reportedly saw two men at the launch site.
“Both men fled, and Denichilo was apprehended hiding in a ditch,” claimed a statement from the federal prosecutor’s office, per The Courier Post.
Denichilio was arrested and released on a $100,000 bond. Meanwhile, Goolcharran remains at large.
At FCI Fort Dix, an inmate was found with contraband from the drone. “A package wrapped in a black plastic bag with fishing line attached” filled with “30 cellphones, nine chargers and multiple earbuds” was reportedly confiscated.
Reports suggest that the prosecution has a strong case against the two men. Authorities allegedly have surveillance camera footage that show a man believed to be Goolcharran and another person “carrying and flying a drone from a launch spot located in the woods outside of Fort Dix.”
Other evidence reportedly include fingerprints and DNA from the two men on the flying equipment. In addition, law enforcement claimed that it “obtained evidence of Goolcharran bringing multiple drones to a store for repairs.”
The criminal duo had apparently tried to make even more drone drops but had been foiled after strong winds pushed the drones into nearby trees. Investigators later found two drones stuck in the branches, which were believed to have been attempted deliveries in September and October 2019.
The men face up to six years in prison in addition to fines of up to $350,000 if convicted.
Fort Dix is not the only prison to recently come under fire for its breaches in security. The Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan — which famously housed Jeffrey Epstein — was heavily criticized after a loaded gun was reportedly smuggled onto the premises, as was previously covered by The Inquisitr.