Ohio prison yard turns into free-for-all after drone hovers overhead, drops drugs

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MANSFIELD, Ohio — Ohio prisons have had incidents with drones hovering over their yards before. But the most recent one saw the unmanned aerial vehicle become a high-flying drug mule.

Officers rushed into the north yard of Mansfield Correctional Institution in Mansfield, Ohio, last week after noticing 75 inmates gathering and a fight breaking out, according to an incident report from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

It wasn’t until authorities later reviewed surveillance tape that they saw what led to the fisticuffs: A drone had flown over the yard and dropped a package.

Inmates were able to get their hands on the delivery containing 144.5 grams of tobacco, 65.4 grams of marijuana and 6.6 grams of heroin before the fight ensued and the package was thrown into the prison’s south yard, the incident report said.

If the heroin is half pure, that package amounts to about 140 individual doses, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Officers had to use pepper spray to get the situation under control, according to the report. Inmates were later strip-searched before being allowed to return to their cells.

Nine inmates were placed in solitary confinement following the incident.

Authorities later found the package in an equipment room in the southern part of the facility, the report says.

This is not the first time an Ohio prison has had an incident with unmanned aerial vehicles, according to Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections spokeswoman JoEllen Smith. She declined to elaborate further because of a potential security risk.

Ohio authorities are now on the lookout for more attempts to use drones to smuggle drugs over prison walls and into inmates hands.

“It’s something we’re certainly aware of,” Smith said. “We’re taking a broad approach to increasing staff awareness and detection.”