Texas man charged with flying drug-laden drone in Fort Worth prison yard

COUNTY OF TARRANT (CBSDFW.COM) – He allegedly flew a drone loaded with drugs, prepaid phones and mp3 players into a Fort Worth prison yard. Now Bryant LeRay Henderson will likely end up behind bars.

The 42-year-old was arrested and charged with one count of attempting to supply contraband to prison, one count of serving as an airman without an airman’s certificate and one count of possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance.

Henderson makes his first appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey L. Cureton on August 12.

“Smuggled drone deliveries are quickly becoming the bane of prison officials’ existence. Illicit goods pose a threat to guards and inmates alike – and when it comes to cell phones, the threat often extends to outside prison walls. We are determined to stop this trend in its tracks,” said U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham.


Federal Bureau of Investigation Dallas Field Office – Fort Worth Resident Agency

According to court documents, Henderson flew a DJI Inspire drone into the airspace over Federal Medical Center Fort Worth, a federal correctional facility in the southern part of the city, just before midnight Wednesday, May 4. The drone crashed inside a secure, fenced area. -in a yard near the prison’s HVAC workshop, where prison staff picked it up. Attached to the drone was a package containing 46 grams of crystal meth, 87 grams of pressed THC, two prepaid smartphones and nine mp3 players.

Law enforcement retrieved surveillance video from a nearby high school and saw a man get into a red Chevy Tahoe with a Transformers decal on the rear window, remove a drone and package from the vehicle, throw the drone toward jail, then drive to arrest.

In a review of other surveillance footage, law enforcement identified a red Tahoe with an identical Transformers sticker. From this sequence, they were able to extract a license plate number. Two and a half weeks later, officers found the Tahoe abandoned in a lane of traffic with the turn signals on and the hood up. He was impounded and searched.

Inside the vehicle, law enforcement found Henderson’s debit card, a DJI drone controller, various drone accessories (rechargeable batteries, a propeller housing and release mechanisms), 18 smartphones, tobacco products and vacuum-packed containers with steroid labels connected to a peach. line and a key chain.

They then turned on the controller recovered from the car next to the drone recovered from the prison yard. The devices immediately paired. From the drone, investigators recovered 70 usable flight logs, which included timestamps as well as speed, height and location data. They identified four flights that entered FMC Fort Worth airspace, and two more that entered airspace over FCI Seagoville, another federal correctional facility southeast of Dallas.

Law enforcement then queried Henderson’s records and found that the phone was near FMC Fort Worth at the time of the drone money and near FCI Seagoville at the time the drone flew into the airspace. from jail.

The Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General searched the FAA database and reported that Henderson did not have an Aviator’s Certificate and that the drone in question was registered with another owner who canceled its registration in August 2018. FAA records confirmed that federal correctional facilities were restricted flight areas.

Contraband delivery by drone is a thorny issue for the Federal Bureau of Prisons and state corrections officials.

Last month, a 44-year-old man from Houston was accused in the Eastern District of Texas for allegedly operating a drone over FCI Beaumont in Eastern Texas. In April, a 30-year-old former prisoner pleaded guilty to conspire to smuggle telephones and tobacco to FCI Fort Dix in New Jersey. And last fall, three men from Atlanta were sentenced to one year each in federal prison for using drones to smuggle contraband into Telfair State Prison in Georgia.

“The criminal element will always take advantage of new opportunities for illegal activity as technology advances,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent Matthew J. DeSarno. “In this case, an excellent collaborative investigation between federal and local agencies led to multiple federal charges and prevented the contraband from entering the federal prison system.”

If convicted, Henderson faces up to 45 years in prison in total: 20 years for attempting to supply contraband while in prison, 5 years for serving as an airman without an airman’s certificate, and 20 years for possession with intend to distribute a controlled substance.

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