November 25, 2020

Drone pilots land in jail after attempting to deliver marijuana to friends in jail

Two young drone pilots attempts to deliver marijuana and other contraband to their friends at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility at Pearl have landed them in jail.

John Travis Ross, 33, of Vicksburg and Joshua Ray Corban, 18, of Utica have been charged with conspiracy and attempting to smuggle contraband into a prison.

The drone carried a payload of two ounces of marijuana buds, a cellphone, phone chargers, headphones, and several cigarette lighters.

The duo’s plan almost worked until the drone got caught in security nets above the facility’s razor-wire fences.

Rankin County Sheriff’s Office used its own technology to trace the drone’s flight path and Ross, a parolee, and Corban were eventually identified as suspects.

“We’re bringing all of Mississippi Corrections into the world of 21st Century crime-fighting technology, and we’re doing it quickly,” says MDOC Commissioner Burl Cain. “They tried to use the drone to help their friends—now it’s going to help us. We’re reprogramming their drone now to use at Parchman so it’s working for the law instead of against it.”

Lead investigator Glenn Dixon said, “We were able to download data from the drone and were able to obtain an address in Vicksburg, where the drone had been frequently used. We cross referenced that address with our MDOC files.”

MDOC’s Corrections Investigation Division coupled that with security video recorded at Mississippi Department of Public Safety Criminal Information Center (CIC) that showed Ross and Corban launching the drone. CIC is a hundred yards down the road from CMCF.

Commissioner Cain says the two confessed and are now facing prison stints, if convicted.

In Ross’ case, he could be returning to prison. He has been on parole since October 2018 for sale of a controlled substance in Warren County. He and Corban made an initial appearance in Rankin County Court on Tuesday.

MDOC Director of Investigations John Hunt says this is the third drone MDOC has intercepted at a Mississippi prison in recent years.