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McDowell County authorities bust ring delivering drugs to prison via drone

WELCH, W.Va. — An ongoing surveillance program by the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department has resulted in multiple arrests for delivering drugs to the federal prison via drone.

“They were using drones, which is nothing new, it’s been going on all over the country,” said Sheriff James “Boomer” Muncy.

McDowell County Sheriff James Muncy

The surveillance started last fall when the FCI officials came to the Sheriff to detail the problems and ask if he and his department could help out.

“They said they’d been having problems with contraband coming into the prison and asked if I would help them and I said of course, so we sat down in a meeting and started the game plan from there,” he explained.

Muncy was reluctant to divulge too much about the operation since it continues and is likely to nab others who attempt to deliver the materials to the lockup from above. The operations would happen late at night according to the sheriff and the small packages would be dropped in pre-determined places inside the prison walls to be picked up later.

“It was everything from tobacco to marijuana to what we believe was fentanyl,” said the Sheriff.

Eleven suspects have been arrested and charged in the operation. They are:

–Miguel Piceno was arrested Feb. 1 and charged with attempt to introduce contraband into a correctional facility, attempt to unlawfully operate an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone), possession with intent to deliver a Schedule I controlled substance and felony conspiracy.

– Francisco Gonzalez was arrested Feb. 1 and charged with attempt to introduce contraband into a correctional facility, attempt to unlawfully operate an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone), possession with intent to deliver a Schedule I Controlled substance and felony conspiracy.

– Bailey Sexton was arrested on Feb.6 and charged with attempt to introduce contraband into a correctional facility, possession with intent to deliver a Schedule I controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a Schedule II controlled substance, attempt to unlawfully operate an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone), felony conspiracy and contributing to the delinquency of a child.

– A juvenile was arrested Feb. 6 and charged with attempt to introduce contraband into a correctional facility, possession with intent to deliver a Schedule I controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a Schedule II controlled substance, attempt to unlawfully operate an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) and felony conspiracy.

– Hector Luis was arrested Feb. 9 and charged with obstructing an officer, fleeing from officer on foot, assault on officer, battery on officer, unauthorized use of an unmanned aerial vehicle, introduction of contraband into a correctional facility, terroristic acts and felony conspiracy.

– Raymond Saez was arrested Feb. 9 and charged with obstructing an officer, fleeing from officer on foot, assault on officer, battery on officer, unauthorized use of an unmanned aerial vehicle, introduction of contraband into a correctional facility, terroristic acts and felony conspiracy.

– Rivera Gamalier was arrested Feb. 9 on charges of being a fugitive from justice from Pennsylvania. Pending charges included unauthorized use of an unmanned aerial vehicle, introduction of contraband into a correctional facility, terroristic acts and felony conspiracy.

– Frank Salgado was arrested on Feb. 9 and charged with no operators, no insurance, introduction of contraband into a correctional facility, unauthorized use of an unmanned aerial vehicle and felony conspiracy.

A 12th individual managed to escape capture on February 9th. Authorities were on the hunt of Jose Sanchez Rodriguez, 29, of Louisville, Ky. McDowell County Deputies found him dead Wednesday and his body was sent to the state Medical Examiner’s office.

All of the charges are state charges at this point, but the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department and McDowell County Prosecutor are working closely with the U.S. Attorney on the case which could result in federal charges as well.





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