Dedrick Sirmans, a resident of Lakeland, Georgia, entered a guilty plea for flying his unregistered drone and dropping contraband at Macon State Prison. Sirmans 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 Chief U.S. District Judge Marc Treadwell. The potential consequences include a maximum of five years in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, and a maximum fine of $250,000. The sentencing is set for March 7.

“Contraband in prisons is a danger to everyone inside the prison, where there is a high potential for violence and drug abuse, as well as inmates using cell phones to direct outside criminal activities,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “As the threat of drones delivering contraband continues to grow, our office—working with law enforcement—will hold all those attempting to get prohibited items to prisoners to the fullest extent of the law.”

“Using drones to distribute contraband is illegal and dangerous,” said Todd Damiani, Special Agent-In-Charge, Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, Southern Region. “We will continue to partner with law enforcement and prosecutors to pursue those who intentionally engage in illicit activities that violate federal regulations.”

According to court documents, on September 14, 2020, around 1:30 a.m., Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) K9 handlers patrolling the area around Macon State Prison encountered Sirmans as he emerged from the woods. Sirmans claimed to be meeting someone he found on the dating app Tinder. A search of the area revealed two plastic bags wrapped in black duct tape with fishing line attached, a black hard-shell case containing a large drone, and various items, including $1,000 in cash, tobacco, marijuana, three cell phones, phone chargers, rolling papers, a Bluetooth device, and clothing. Sirmans’ car, parked on the road, contained three pistols in the trunk.

Investigators from the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG) identified 25 flight paths taken by the drone. Some flights occurred over Macon State Prison, and one was over Patten Probation Detention Center in Lakeland, Georgia. Notably, Flights 23 and 25 on September 14, 2020, coincided with Sirmans being discovered by GDC officers near Macon State Prison. The drone involved in these activities was unregistered.

The case was investigated by DOT-OIG, GDC, and the Macon County Sheriff’s Office. (Press Release)

See Also-

An Analysis of FAA Enforcement Actions Against sUAS Operators

Post Image- Aerial View of Macon State Prison (Image Credit: Google)