FORT WORTH, Texas (KXAN) – A Smithville man was arrested Thursday after officials said he attempted to use a drone to deliver drugs and other contraband into a Texas prison.
Bryant LeRay Henderson, 42, was federally charged by criminal complaint with attempting to provide contraband in prison, serving as an airman without an airman’s certificate and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.
“Contraband drone deliveries are quickly becoming the bane of prison officials’ existence. Illicit goods pose a threat to guards and inmates alike – and when it comes to cell phones, the threat often extends outside prison walls. We are determined to stop this trend in its tracks,” said U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham.
Court documents said Henderson flew a drone into the airspace over FMC Fort Worth, a federal prison, on May 4. The drone crashed inside the facility, and it was recovered by staff.
“Affixed to the drone was a package containing 46 grams of crystal methamphetamine, 87 grams of pressed THC, two prepaid smartphones, and nine mp3 players,” a release said.
Nearby surveillance pulled by law enforcement showed a man drive up, remove a drone and a package from the vehicle, launch the drone towards the prison and then drive off.
Additional footage was reviewed by officials. The footage helped law enforcement identify the vehicle, and they were able to pull a license plate number. The vehicle was later found abandoned in the middle of the road, so it was impounded.
Officials searched the vehicle and found Henderson’s debit card, a drone controller, various drone accessories, 18 smartphones, tobacco products and vacuum-packed containers with steroid labels connected to a fishing line and a key ring.
According to reports, when powered on, the drone controller from the vehicle immediately paired with the drone recovered from the prison yard.
Flight logs from the drone showed it was flown into the FMC Fort Worth’s airspace four times and over the FCI Seagoville, another federal correctional center, twice.
A release said contraband delivered from drones was an “increasingly vexing problem” for the Federal Bureau of Prisons and state corrections officials.
If convicted, Henderson faces up to 45 years total in prison: 20 years for attempting to provide contraband in prison, five years for serving as an airman without an airman’s certificate and 20 years for possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.