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Florida Man Flies Drone Near Tampa Super Bowl Activities, Faces 1 Year In Prison

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Think twice before flying that drone in Tampa during Super Bowl LV. An Orlando man faces up to one year in federal prison for doing so.

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With no shortage of Super Bowl LV coverage in the Tampa, it may difficult to keep up with all of the news surrounding the big game. If you're one of the many that has converged on the Bay Area to partake in the festivities, law enforcement remind you to leave the drones packed away.

A criminal complaint charges Henry Alejandro Jimenez (33, Orlando) with violating national defense airspace. If convicted, Jimenez faces a maximum penalty of one year in federal prison.

According to the complaint, on February 3, 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a temporary flight restriction (TFR) covering an area extending outward from downtown Tampa. This TFR, along with others, was issued as part of a comprehensive security plan designed to protect and secure the events leading up to, and including, Super Bowl LV.

RELATED: Security Level Of Super Bowl 55 In Tampa Is One Step Below The Inauguration

That day, FBI agents saw an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), commonly referred to as a "drone," flying near the Barrymore Hotel Tampa Riverwalk—an area within the TFR. The FBI agents then located Jimenez, the operator of the drone, nearby in downtown Tampa. Jimenez stated that he is an FAA-licensed remote pilot UAS operator and that he was aware that a TFR was in place for the Super Bowl.

A review of his drone's flight path showed that it had traveled over Julian B. Lane Waterfront Park, which was hosting public events related to the Super Bowl. Jimenez also appears to have operated his drone without maintaining an uninterrupted visual line of sight for the entire flight, as required by FAA regulations. Furthermore, Jimenez flew his drone over people and moving vehicles.

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"This is a perfect example of the serious consequences drone operators face when they choose to ignore the temporary flight restrictions," said FBI Tampa Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson. "The TFRs are in place for your safety during Super Bowl week. Be aware of the NO DRONE ZONES and report any suspicious activity to the FBI or local law enforcement."

A complaint is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.


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