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Authorities Catch Criminals Using Drones To Drop Guns, Drugs Into Prisons

Anastasia Boushee
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Following an extensive investigation that began in November 2022, law enforcement uncovered a massive scheme where criminals used drones to drop firearms, cell phones and drugs into Georgia prisons.

During “Operation Skyhawk,” law enforcement arrested 150 people, including eight corrections officers, and seized 87 drones, 273 contraband cellphones and 22 weapons. Authorities also found significant quantities of tobacco, marijuana, methamphetamine, ecstasy and cocaine. The total street value of the items seized during the operation is roughly $7 million.

The Georgia Department of Corrections officers arrested during the operation were all “immediately terminated” from their positions.


In a Thursday press release, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) office explained that the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) had collaborated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Safe Streets Task Force for the massive investigation, resulting in search warrants and arrest warrants being executed at two different locations in the Metro Atlanta area. According to GDC special agent Gregg Phillips, there were also roughly 170 prison drops intercepted during the investigation.

One of the locations that was raided was a drone repair shop in Gwinnett County, where authorities apprehended two individuals and seized more than 50 drones.

Kemp’s office declared in the press release that the massive criminal network had been “successfully dismantled.”

“This operation successfully dismantled an elaborate criminal network spanning multiple states, encompassing civilians, inmates, and staff engaged in smuggling contraband into GDC facilities,” the press release read.


The Republican governor also issued a strong statement condemning the crimes and celebrating the law enforcement officials who took part in the operation.

“Georgia will not tolerate those who put our communities at risk by trafficking drugs, weapons, and contraband both in and out of our correctional facilities. I want to thank Commissioner Oliver, the hardworking men and women of the GDC, and all law enforcement who worked to shut these operations down and help keep both Georgians and our correctional facilities safe,” he wrote.

GDC Commissioner Tyrone Oliver also celebrated the operation’s success, declaring that it “should be a reminder” to anyone “inside or outside our prisons” that there is “zero tolerance” for these crimes and that the GDC “will take swift action against those who threaten the safe operations of our facilities and the safety of the public.”

Those arrested during the operation face a combined 1,000 counts related to contraband smuggling, drug trafficking, and possession of firearms by felons, along with potential added charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and potential gang-related offenses. With all of these potential charges, Operation Skyhawk may become the largest gang-related RICO case in Georgia history, according to officials.