Ohio Woman Gets Surprise Air Mail When Drone Carrying Cannabis Crashes Into Home

A quiet night at home in Ohio was disturbed this week when a drone strapped with weed, tobacco and cell phones crashed into a house in Mansfield, south of Cleveland, and scared the heck out of its occupants.

According to the Richland County Sheriff's office, a 17-year-old resident of the home heard something hit the house and went outside to investigate. She found a DJI Phantom 4 drone with a package attached to it. The drone, with its onboard lights concealed with duct tape, was still on and beeping. The police were called.

When authorities inspected the package, they found several bags of cannabis, tobacco, cell phones and chargers, leading them to conclude it was not a late surprise Christmas gift but most likely meant for the Mansfield Correctional Institute or the Richland Correctional Institution, both of which are within several miles from the house where the drone made its inglorious landing.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Sheriff's office have reported numerous cases of drones delivering contraband to the Mansfield Correctional Institute, which made national news several years ago when a large drop of weed, tobacco and heroin plopped into the recreation yard and sparked a huge brawl.

Drones Dropping Contraband Into Prisons On The Rise

Scattered reports suggest that drone use for smuggling operations has proven popular for flying contraband into state as well as federal prisons in recent years, especially as drones have become increasingly common. 

In September, a package containing cannabis and tobacco landed in the schoolyard of a private academy in Virginia. Authorities said the drone drop was meant for the nearby Lawrenceville Correctional Center. 

Several years ago in Michigan, a drone dropped drugs into the prison yard of the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia but was quickly intercepted by police authorities. 

What’s To Be Done?

Transporting contraband has been a problem for prisons for years and seems to be on the rise, which prompted a September 2020 report from the Department of Justice (DOJ). One of the DOJ’s main concerns was that one day drones could be used to get inmates out of prison by airlifting them over the walls

Among the overall considerations expressed in the DOJ report is that the Bureau of Prisons faces “significant and growing challenges to protect its facilities from “unmanned aircraft systems” and that the government is not doing enough about it.

Meanwhile, in Ohio, Richland County Sheriff Capt. Donald Zehner told local media that the drone in question is worth about $2,100 and the owner is invited to come to his office and claim it.

“If anybody is missing it and wants to claim it they can come to the sheriff’s office and I will personally help them fill out the paperwork to claim it,” Zehner said.

Photo by Miguel Ángel Hernández, courtesy of Unsplash. 

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