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Three individuals arrested for using a drone to drop a cell phone, drugs into correctional facility



Contact: Chris Gautz (517) 241-0363


Ionia, Mich. – Three individuals have been arrested following their attempt to introduce a cell phone and drugs into the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia with the aid of a drone.

This is one of the first occurrences in the nation where suspects were immediately arrested by law enforcement after allegedly introducing contraband into a prison facility.

“Drones present a serious and constant threat to our prisons across the state. Our staff remain vigilant in their efforts to keep dangerous contraband from entering our facilities in all manners,” Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington said. “I am proud of the prompt and professional response of our staff and for the support and coordination with local law enforcement and the Michigan State Police to apprehend these individuals. Together, their actions kept not only our facility, staff and prisoners safe, but the surrounding community as well.”

Shortly before 4 a.m. Thursday, two corrections officers heard the sound of a drone in the yard area inside the prison and began to investigate. As they did, the drone dropped a package near a housing unit. The officers responded and notified additional staff. The drone then returned to the area where corrections officers had gathered and dropped an additional package near the same area.

Staff at the prison contacted local law enforcement who responded and were able to detain a vehicle and three individuals who were found near the prison.

The Michigan State Police assisted facility staff and members of the department’s Emergency Response Team in conducting a thorough search of the facility grounds and areas surrounding the facility after the incident.

“We will continue to work with our partners in the law enforcement community to ensure they have what they need to successfully prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law,” Director Washington said. “We will also continue our efforts to aid lawmakers in their efforts to strengthen laws regarding drones and their ability to introduce dangerous contraband into our prisons.”