COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Three men, including two from central Ohio, are facing up to 116 felony drug charges for allegedly using a drone to deliver contraband into multiple prisons in Ohio in 2021.
The trio were indicted in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas for allegedly delivering illegal drugs, phones and other contraband into the Toledo, Mansfield, Richland, and Ross correctional institutions, as well as the North Central Correctional Complex, according to a release by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, as well as the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
The investigation began on May 28, 2021, when a drone containing contraband was located inside the perimeter fence of the Toledo Correctional Institution. After several months, deputies and investigators identified Robert Faulkner, 33, of Columbus, Cory Sutphin, 28 of Grove City, and Charles Gibbs, 33 of Sandusky, as suspects who were operating the drones.
In November 2021, authorities served a search warrant at Faulkner’s residence and uncovered $319,820 worth of drugs, weapons, cell phones and contraband. OSHP said they were to be used in future deliveries to the prisons.
Among the other items taken were a DJI Phantom 4 drone, two firearms, several plastic bags and zip ties, drug paraphernalia, and duct tape.
Faulkner, Sutphin and Gibbs were indicted on April 7, 2023, on 60, 26 and 30 felony counts, respectively. Charges include engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, trafficking and possession of cocaine and a fentanyl-related compound, possession of criminal tools, aggravated possession of drugs and having weapons under disability.
If convicted, all three suspects could face a combined total of 294 years and six months in prison – 142 for Faulkner, 69 for Sutphin and 83 and six months for Gibbs.