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Texas man arrested for allegedly flying drugs, phones into prison yard on drone

A Texas man was arrested after allegedly flying a drone loaded with drugs, prepaid phones and mp3 players into a Fort Worth prison yard. 

Bryant LeRay Henderson, 42, was arrested at his home in Smithville, Texas and charged with one count of attempting to provide contraband in prison, one count of serving as an airman without an airman’s certificate, and one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

“Contraband drone deliveries are quickly becoming the bane of prison officials’ existence. Illicit goods pose a threat to guards and inmates alike – and when it comes to cell phones, the threat often extends outside prison walls. We are determined to stop this trend in its tracks,” said U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham in a press release on Friday.

According to court documents, Henderson allegedly flew a DJI Inspire drone into the airspace over FMC Fort Worth, a prison in the south part of Fort Worth, just before midnight on Wednesday, May 4.

The drone crashed inside a secure, fenced-in yard near the prison’s HVAC shop, where guards recovered it.

Staff discovered that attached to the drone was a package with 46 grams of crystal methamphetamine, 87 grams of pressed THC, two prepaid smartphones, and nine mp3 players.

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Authorities quickly discovered video footage of a nearby high school and saw a man drive up in a red Chevy Tahoe with a Transformers’ decal on the rear window, remove a drone and a package from the vehicle, launch the drone towards the prison, and then drive off.

After looking into security footage, police identified the license plate number of the SUV. Two and a half weeks later, officers found the Tahoe abandoned in a travel lane, flashers on and hood up.

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A search uncovered debit cards with Henderson’s name on them, DJI drone controllers, rechargeable drone batteries, 18 smartphones, tobacco products, and vacuum sealed containers with steroid labels

After an investigation into Henderson’s phone records, police found that his phone was around during the time of the drone crash.

The Department of Transportation told investigators that Henderson did not have the necessary FAA certification to fly a drone and confirmed that federal correctional institutional are considered restricted flight areas

“The criminal element will always take advantage of new opportunities for illegal activity as technology progresses,” FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno said in the press release. “In this instance, excellent collaborative investigation among federal and local agencies led to multiple federal charges and prevented contraband from entering the federal prison system.”

If convicted, Henderson faces up to 45 years in prison.

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