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4 face charges related to drone drops delivering drugs to California prisons

Drone drug drops at California prisons leads to arrests
Drone drug drops at California prisons leads to arrests 02:17

SACRAMENTO — Drone drops deliver drugs right inside the walls of California state prisons. The alleged felony flights have led to a federal complaint against four men, including two in the Sacramento region.

High state prison walls were no match for higher-flying drones smuggling drugs into the California State Prison population.

Court documents show four men are now under arrest for the drone drops across nine state prisons, including California State Prison, Sacramento.

Michael Ray Acosta, Jose Enrique Oropeza, Rosendo Rene Ramirez, and David Ramirez, Jr. are facing a long list of charges. 

The documents reveal the men are accused of conspiring to deliver heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, cellular phones, chargers and phone parts into the prisons — all dropped by drones inside prison walls.

And the defendants, in some cases, dropped the contraband on a prison rooftop, stuffed inside a pigeon or hidden in a mop head.

Sacramento State Criminology Professor Dr. Shelby Moffatt says the new high-tech trick takes the place of smuggling in drugs through family visits or prison staff.

"The new version of using drones to drop the drugs in," Moffatt said. "How many of these officers can be watching every single inmate at every single minute of the day, for them to be doing the things they do?"

Surveillance video shows a drone drop at an Ohio prison. A prisoner was looking up and trying to time the drop in an outdoor courtyard. Ohio prison guards say this drop included marijuana and a cell phone. 

"Law enforcement is always slow to catch up to technology," Moffatt said.

The court documents reveal the defendants in this case planned the drops in the evening and overnight when the drones were less likely to be seen and heard. They even bought camouflage gear they wore when flying in the drugs and cell phone devices from distant locations.

If convicted, the four defendants face a 10-year-to-life sentence.

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