Massive Prison Contraband Smuggling Operation Busted In Georgia

Over 150 suspects, including eight corrections officers, were swept up last week in a sprawling bust of an alleged scheme to supply Georgia prisons with a wide array of contraband. The plot apparently involved the sophisticated use of drones to deliver cell phones, drugs and weapons.

The massive action, dubbed “Operation Skyhawk,” began in Nov. 2022 and targeted the seemingly free flow of illegal items into state prisons.

Arrest warrants were executed at two locations in Metro Atlanta. The sweep was coordinated through the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDOC) and the FBI Safe Streets Gang Task Force.

A drone repair shop in Gwinnett County was raided. Authorities arrested two employees in the suburban Atlanta shop and seized more than 50 drones.

The eight DOC employees implicated in the scheme were fired.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s office released a statement celebrating the massive disruption of the enterprise. “This operation successfully dismantled an elaborate criminal network spanning multiple states, inmates, and staff engaged in smuggling contraband into GDC facilities.”

The governor’s office reported that more than 1,000 charges resulted from the investigation. Among the many infractions were drug trafficking, contraband introduction and felons in possession of firearms.

Many in the expansive operation are expected to face charges related to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

Kemp’s office noted the gang implications in the indictments could lead to the largest RICO case in state history.

Officials reported that a total of 87 drones were confiscated. Other contraband items seized by law enforcement included 273 cell phones, 22 weapons and large quantities of marijuana, tobacco, methamphetamine, ecstasy and cocaine.

The street value of the items seized by law enforcement is estimated at $7 million.

GDOC Special Agent Gregg Phllips told WSB-TV that the operation intercepted roughly 170 prison drops since Nov. 2022.

And GDOC Commissioner Tyrone Oliver released a statement saying the massive takedown should serve notice to individuals both inside and outside the prison system.

Oliver said the state has “zero tolerance and will take swift action against those who threaten the safe operations of our facilities and the safety of the public.”