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MANSFIELD, Ohio (WJW)– Troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol say a Cleveland man was caught red-handed while trying to smuggle contraband into a prison.

Troopers were alerted late Saturday that someone was flying a drone over the Mansfield Correctional Institution. Investigators said they eventually found the drone operator, and discovered a package containing marijuana, cigarettes and cell phones that he allegedly intended to drop into the prison yard.

“People are very creative in their attempts to get contraband into the prison, and it’s something that we’re always looking to see what the newest latest method is. You know, drones have been around for a couple of years and we’ve been seeing them used to attempt to covey contraband into the prisons for a few years,” Lt. Craig Cvetan said.

In addition to state charges that include illegal conveyance of drugs into a government facility, the suspect could face federal charges from the FAA for allegedly flying the drone into restricted air space near Lahm Regional Airport in Mansfield.

The highway patrol and prison authorities are now attempting to identify suspects inside the prison who may have been working with the drone operator.

“We want to keep that contraband out of the prison because that presents an issue within the facility,” Cvetan said

Charges against the drone operator are pending.

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