Last month, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction announced that three men face 116 criminal counts. The charges stem from their alleged involvement in utilizing drones to transport cell phones, drugs, and various prohibited items into five state prisons.

Side view of a drone with an after-market drop mechanism
Side view of a seized drone with an after-market dropping mechanism. (Image Credit: Ohio State Highway Patrol)


Investigators say, Robert Faulkner, Cory Sutphin, and Charle Gibbs used drones to bring illegal drugs, cell phones, and other contraband onto the grounds of Toledo, Mansfield, Richland, Ross Correctional institutions, and the North Central Correctional Complex. When authorities searched Faulkner’s Columbus home, law enforcement seized $319,000 worth of illegal drugs, weapons, cell phones, and contraband. If convicted, they face between 69 to 142 years in prison, depending on their charges.

Photo of a camouflaged drone contraband package
Photo of a camouflaged contraband package to be delivered by drone. (Image Credit: Ohio State Highway Patrol)


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According to the press release, the investigation began on May 28, 2021, when a drone containing contraband was located inside the perimeter fence of the Toledo Correctional Institution. Through the several months-long investigation, troopers and investigators identified the three suspects.

Contraband items seized in Ohio
Photo of contraband seized as part of the drone delivery prison contraband scheme (Image Credit: Ohio State Highway Patrol)


On April 7, 2023, Faulkner (60 felony counts), Sutphin (26 felony counts) and Gibbs (30 felony counts) were indicted. The indictment included engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, trafficking and possession of cocaine and a fentanyl-related compound, possession of criminal tools, aggravated possession of drugs, and having weapons under disability.

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The ODRC and the OSHP ask citizens with information to call 833-DRC-TIPS to report illegal acts of contraband conveyance into Ohio prisons. Tips can lead to a reward and more information can be found here