Georgia Dept. of Corrections investigation exposes drug deliveries to inmates using drones

Press release from the office of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp

150 arrests of inmates, civilians and staff and $7 million street value in confiscated materials

Atlanta, GA – Gov. Brian P. Kemp announced ongoing investigations involving the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Safe Streets Gang Task Force has effectively shut down a sophisticated, multi-state criminal enterprise that led to the arrest of 150 people.

Arrest warrants were served at two locations in the metro Atlanta area on March 29, 2024 after the investigation revealed that a combination of civilians, inmates and staff were transporting contraband behind the guard line at prisons. In what was described as a multi-state criminal enterprise, those charged included civilians, inmates and staff members involved in introducing contraband into GDC facilities.

“Georgia will not tolerate those who put our communities at risk by trafficking drugs, weapons, and contraband both in and out of our correctional facilities,” Kemp said in a press release. “I want to thank Commissioner Oliver, the hardworking men and women of the GDC, and all law enforcement who worked to shut these operations down and help keep both Georgians and our correctional facilities safe.”

According to the press release, dubbed “Operation Skyhawk,” the months-long investigation into contraband at GDC facilities revealed the use of drones to facilitate the introduction of contraband. The eight GDC employees who were charged were immediately terminated.

“With a combined total of over 1,000 criminal charges stemming from contraband introduction, drug trafficking, and felons in possession of firearms, many of the individuals arrested will also be facing Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) charges and Participation in Criminal Gang Activity in multiple venues across the state, resulting in what will possibly be the largest Gang RICO in the state’s history,” was noted in the press release.

“The success of ‘Operation Skyhawk’ should be a reminder to anyone – inside or outside our prisons – that we have zero tolerance and will take swift action against those who threaten the safe operations of our facilities and the safety of the public,” GDC Commissioner Tyrone Oliver said in the press release. “Our reach is far and wide, not just within the walls of our facilities, and I stand by my words from over a year ago, that this activity will not be tolerated. I am immensely proud of our Agents for their commitment to seeing that these individuals are brought to justice.”

Items that have been confiscated thus far during the operation include the following items, with a total combined street value of over $7 million:

  • Drones – 87
  • Weapons – 22
  • Contraband cell phones in facilities – 273
  • Civilian cell phones – 180
  • Tobacco – 185 pounds
  • Marijuana – 67 pounds
  • Methamphetamine – 12 pounds
  • Ecstasy – 51 pounds
  • Cocaine – 10 grams
  • Various pills – 90

It is believed other states may also be affected by the same criminal enterprise that could benefit by the success of “Operation Skyhawk.” Officials note this would not have been possible without the assistance of hundreds of local law enforcement partners making traffic stops and responding to throw-overs and contraband drops via drone at GDC facilities.

About the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC)
The Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) has one of the largest prison systems in the U.S. and is responsible for supervising approximately 47,000 state prisoners. It is the largest law enforcement agency in the state with approximately 9,000 employees. For more information on the GDC, call 478-992-5247 or visit

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