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State busts up smuggling ring in prisons that used drones

By Dave Williams

Bureau Chief

Capitol Beat News Service



         ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Corrections and the FBI have broken up a multi-state criminal operation involving the use of drones to smuggle contraband into state prisons.

         “Operation Skyhawk” has led to the arrest of 150 suspects, including eight prison employees who were immediately fired. Those arrested – including civilians, inmates, and prison staff – face more than 1,000 charges stemming from contraband introduction, drug trafficking, and possession of firearms, as well as racketeering.

         “The success of ‘Operation Skyhawk’ should be a reminder to anyone – inside or outside our prisons – that we have zero tolerance and will take swift action against those who threaten the safe operations of our facilities and the safety of the public,” Corrections Commissioner Tyrone Oliver said Thursday. “I am immensely proud of our agents for their commitment to seeing that these individuals are brought to justice.”

         Confiscated contraband thus far during the operation includes 87 drones, 22 weapons, 273 cellphones found inside state prisons, 180 civilian cellphones, 185 pounds of tobacco, 67 pounds in marijuana, 51 pounds of the drug Ecstasy, 12 pounds of methamphetamines, and 10 grams of cocaine. Altogether, the items have a combined street value of $7 million.

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