Prison drone delivery thwarted

Prison drone delivery thwarted
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A plan to use a drone to deliver illegal items to a Maryland jail has been thwarted by police there, according to officials in the Old Line State.  

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said this week that it uncovered a drone, a gun and other contraband while arresting a man whose vehicle was stopped near a state prison complex at Cresaptown, Md.

Officials with the agency said the man intended to use the drone to fly contraband into the prison. They said the incident is likely the first case of a drone being used to deliver prohibited items to a prison in the U.S. 

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"I commend the members of the investigative task force as well as the dedicated correctional employees who assisted in this investigation," Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said in a statement.

"Keeping our prisons safe and free of contraband will always be a priority of our administration and I am confident Secretary [Stephen] Moyer and all of our law enforcement agencies will continue doing everything possible to ensure this happens," Hogan continued. 

Moyer, of the Maryland State Police Department, said the discovery of the drone delivery plan was the result of "excellent law enforcement and correctional partnership. 

"Thanks to outstanding intelligence and detective work, we were able to keep out contraband that fuels violence and threatens the safety of the public, our employees, and the inmates,” he said. 

The alleged drone prison delivery attempt comes as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is in the process of developing regulations for allowing a rapid expansion of the use of commercial drones in the U.S.

The agency has faced tremendous pressure to approve such an expansion of nonmilitary drone use from companies such as Amazon, who have said the technology can be used to make speedier online deliveries. 

Police and other law enforcement groups are also seeking approval to use the technology, and the FAA has investigated several drone incidents that occurred in conjunction with photography at college and professional sporting events.

The agency said recently that it has approved more than 1,000 drone flights under a section of federal law that allows the Transportation Department to wave requirements for FAA approval for unnamed aircraft operations that take place outside of restricted airspace and below 200 feet. 

Delivery to prisoners would obviously not be covered under any exemptions, however.