Eric Lee Brown, 35, now faces up to five years of imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and a fine of US$250,000
A man from Lithonia, Georgia pleaded guilty this week to attempting to drop cannabis into prison via drone in 2018.
Eric Lee Brown, 35, 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,” per a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Georgia.
Brown now faces up to five years of imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and a fine of US$250,000. He has not been charged with dropping the weed at the prison, but admitted his intention to do so in court.
Prosecutors say that in March 2018, local police answered a call about a vehicle that was interfering with traffic in the area around Autry State Prison in Pelham. When officers answered the call, they found Brown inside the vehicle – along with approximately 294 grams of cannabis flower and a DJI Phantom 4 drone, which was unregistered with the Federal Aviation Administration’s remote pilot or airman certification.
A search of Brown’s cell phone yielded a text message conversation about purchasing the drone, which he did the week before his alleged smuggling attempt, and transporting the weed.
“Mr. Brown’s guilty plea should be a very clear warning to anyone who chooses to illegally operate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for unintended purposes,” Todd Damiani, Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (DOT OIG) Regional Special Agent in Charge said in a news release. “DOT OIG special agents, along with our federal, state, and prosecutorial law enforcement partners, will actively pursue those who unlawfully use federally-regulated modes of transportation for the distribution of controlled substances or contraband.”