Photo: Getty Images
  /  04.29.2022

Yesterday (April 28), 34-year-old John Travis Ross of Vicksburg pleaded guilty to flying a drone containing contraband onto the property of the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County.

Court documents say that the drone Ross operated carried cell phone cables, a cell phone, 60 grams of marijuana and a lighter.

U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca’s office stated that Ross’ guilty plea was for possession with intent to distribute less than 50 kilograms of marijuana. The incident occurred in the early morning hours of Aug. 6, 2020.

The free man will now appear in court on Aug. 4, 2022 to face sentencing. Ross faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison with the inmates that he was doing the favor for.

Although his risky actions were caught on surveillance video, guards were made aware of the incident when Ross’ drone got caught in security nets according to WAPT 16 in Jackson, Mississippi.

Officials at the Mississippi Department of Corrections were able to use their technology to trace the drone’s flight path. This led them to Ross.

“We were able to download data from the drone and were able to obtain an address in Vicksburg, where the drone had been frequently used. We cross-referenced that address with our MDOC files,” lead investigator Glenn Dixon said when the crime initially happened in 2020.

MDOC Commissioner Burl Cain added, “We’re bringing all of Mississippi Corrections into the world of 21st Century crime-fighting technology, and we’re doing it quickly. They tried to use the drone to help their friends — now it’s going to help us.”

Todd Damiani (Special Agent-In-Charge, U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, Southern Region) said, “Among the various intended uses of drone technology, illicit distribution of contraband, particularly inside a correctional facility, is not one.” He continued, “We continue to diligently work with our Federal and State partners in identifying, investigating, and disrupting criminal drone activities.”

According to court documents, the 34-year-old has prior felony convictions for the sale of methamphetamine and burglary of a building.

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