U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced that the second of two Hudson County men charged with conspiring to use drones to smuggle contraband into Fort Dix has surrendered to authorities. The contraband that was intercepted from these drone drug drops, includes more than 160 cell phones, 150 SIM cards, 74 cell phone batteries and chargers, steroids, 35 syringes, two metal saw blades, and marijuana.
Recently, two men were charged with using drones to smuggle contraband such as marijuana, steroids, syringes, cell phones, and cell phone equipment, into the federal correctional facility at Fort Dix on March 13. Until recently surrendering to authorities, the second man was at-large.
According to the Hudson Reporter, Adrian Goolcharran, 35, from Union City, appeared in Trenton federal court and was released on a $100,000 secured bond. Both Goolcharran and Nicolo Denichilo, 38, from Jersey City were each charged with one count of conspiring to smuggle contraband and to defraud the United States and one count of smuggling contraband into the federal prison at Fort Dix.
Denichilo was arrested on March 12 after federal law enforcement agents learned of an alleged scheduled drone drop at Fort Dix, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Denichilo made an appearance in Trenton federal court on March 13 and was released on a $100,000 unsecured bond.
Special agents of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General (DOJ-OIG) have obtained evidence of at least seven alleged drone deliveries containing contraband meant for inmates at Fort Dix since July 2018, according to documents filed in this case and statements made in court.
Drone drug drops at Fort Dix federal correctional facility
To carefully coordinate the drone drug drops with others, Goolcharran allegedly used text messages and aerial shots of locations at Fort Dix. He also used text messages to discuss weather conditions.
Acting on information obtained by Fort Dix officials, law enforcement agents approached Denichilo and another person at a launch site near Fort Dix, minutes after Fort Dix officials had observed a drone flying over a housing unit at the prison on March 12. Both men fled the scene, but Denichilo was quickly apprehended hiding in a ditch nearby. Agents seized an SUV near the launch site that contained the drone in the backseat.
Close to the drop zone inside the Fort Dix prison, officials found an inmate in possession of 34 cell phones, nine chargers, 51 SIM cards, and other telephone equipment.
The contraband that has been intercepted by authorities in relation to the drone drug drops into the Fort Dix prison include more than 160 cell phones, 150 SIM cards, 74 cell phone batteries and chargers, steroids, 35 syringes, two metal saw blades, and marijuana.
The conspiracy count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. The contraband smuggling count carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and $100,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents of DOJ-OIG, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Guido Modano, and its Cyber Investigations Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Keith A. Bonanno, with the investigation leading to the charges. For their assistance in the investigation, he also thanked the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Detachment 307, under the direction of Superintendent Jonathan Jackson and the U.S. Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Douglas Shoemaker.
The government is represented in this case by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cari Fais and Jeffrey Manis of the Office’s Special Prosecutions Division in Newark. The charges and allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.