NJ man used drones to smuggle cell phones, tobacco, other contraband into federal prison

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A New Jersey man pleaded guilty to smuggling contraband into a federal prison with a drone as well as possession of heroin and fentanyl Tuesday. 

Jason Arteaga-Loayza, also known as “Juice,” was an inmate at the correctional facility in Fort Dix from June 2017 to September 2018. A month after he got out, he and his co-conspirators started coordinating to fly a drone over the prison grounds and drop cell phones, tobacco, weight loss supplements and other forms of contraband to an inmate still inside the federal correctional facility. 

They would then sell the contraband to other prisoners for a profit. 

A New Jersey man pleaded guilty to smuggling contraband into the federal correctional facility in Fort Dix with a drone. (Federal Bureau of Prisons)

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Adrian Goolcharran, Nicolo Denichilo and Johansel Moronta have also been charged in the scheme. 

Goolcharran, who is accused of flying the drone, would camp out in the woods near the prison and fly the drones in the evening hours or overnight to avoid detection. He also put tape over the drone’s lights to make it harder for prison officials to spot them. 

Authorities eventually got wind of the scheme and searched Arteaga-Loayza’s residence on June 27, 2019. They found cell phones, empty cell phone boxes, empty boxes of SIM cards and a Bugler tobacco box.

Police also found a suitcase that contained 21 grams of a heroin and fentanyl mixture, as well as 20 packets of Suboxone, a prescription medicine used to treat opioid dependence. 

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When authorities arrested Goolcharran and Denichilo last year, they said they found “marijuana, steroids, more than 160 cell phones, 150 SIM cards, 74 cell phone batteries and chargers, 35 syringes and two metal saw blades.”

After pleading guilty Tuesday, Arteaga-Loayza faces up to five years in prison for the drone smuggling charge, and up to 20 years in prison for the drug charge. He’ll be sentenced in September of this year. 

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