Lowcountry man among more than 20 arrested in nighttime SC prison drone assaults

A Round-O man is one of 20 arrested and charged with using drones to fly contraband into state prisons.
Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 6:15 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2022 at 8:04 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - A Colleton County man is one of 20 people facing charges in connection with using drones to fly contraband into state prisons.

Tywuan Ford of Round O is one of several people charged with trafficking drugs and other contraband over prison walls.

Ford was charged with contraband, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, trafficking in methamphetamines, criminal conspiracy and failure to stop for a blue light, according to a release from the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

“Our main focus is to stop contraband from entering the institution, and especially prevent someone from getting injured in the process,” Lee County Sheriff Daniel Simon said. “We formed this partnership years ago, working hand in hand with each other to keep the inmates and the public safe.”

In the past, people used to throw such items over the prison fences but now they’re getting bolder and more sophisticated, using drones to accomplish the task, state prison officials say.

The prison system calls them “drone attacks” and for eight months, corrections department officials have been investigating instances at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville.

“I’m grateful for the partnership with have with Lee County and the hard work their officers do to keep contraband from entering the institution,” South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said.

The investigation began in May 2021, with eight arrests being made through August, SCDC spokesperson Chrysti Shain said.

More than 100 pounds of contraband has been flown into the facility, mostly at night, investigators say.

Law enforcement officers work together to combat frequent drone attacks.

“My officers are ready and willing to assist the sheriff’s office any time, especially when it involves the drone activity and contraband at the prison,” Bishopville Police Chief J.D. Dellinger said.

Over the weekend, officers caught two separate groups of people trying to fly items into the prison yard. Those items included tobacco, marijuana, methamphetamines, crack, cocaine, cell phones, knives, guns and drones, along with more than $6,000 in cash.

Packages also include numerous charging cords, lighters, bottles of liquor, candy and clothing.

Officers also have found three abandoned drones containing about five pounds of tobacco and 100 grams of meth in the woods near the prison fences.

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