WITH a $3500 fishing drone and a black plastic bag containing buprenorphine, tobacco and a mobile phone, Aiden Danny Ingram was ready to enter the new world of contraband smuggling and keep the jailhouse drug market alive.
But police and the Corrective Services NSW security operations group were ready too. With face-to-face visits banned during the COVID-19 pandemic, those attempting to smuggle drugs and tobacco to inmates have been forced to innovate.
Tennis balls containing cannabis, tobacco and prescription medication have been lobbed over the walls of Cessnock Correctional Centre and authorities have foiled more than one plot to use a drone to deliver drugs and contraband under the cover of darkness.
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Ingram, 25, of Long Street, Cessnock, has become the latest person convicted over a drone plot after he was jailed last week for a maximum of two years and four months.
Police say they received intelligence that Ingram had made arrangements with an inmate at Cessnock Correctional Centre to make a delivery of prohibited drugs and gathered enough information to keep an eye out for a specific vehicle.
It was about 11.45pm on August 23 this year when police spotted the car in Long Street and spoke to Ingram in the passenger seat.
They searched the car and found a black plastic bag under the front passenger seat.
The top of the bag was tied with black electrical tape with a loop fashioned at the top and police found a Gannet drone, which are normally used for drone fishing and releasing bait.
The drone had duck tape covering the "anti-collision lights" so that Ingram could deliver the drugs under the cover of darkness, police said.
In the bag was about two grams of buprenorphine strips, an opioid that police say had an estimated value of about $64,000 when on-sold to inmates inside a correctional facility.
Ingram claimed he left home with the intention of trying to smuggle the drugs into the jail, but claimed he had a change of heart.
He will be eligible for parole in October, 2022 after serving 14 months.
Jade Thompson received a similar sentence last year for throwing a tennis ball full of drugs over the walls of Cessnock jail.
Police say they will continue to work with prison staff to prevent smuggling plots.
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