Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Men Charged With Using Drones to Smuggle Drugs Into Valley Prisons
bill-new-mug-002
By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 1 year ago on
April 13, 2023

Share

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Charges unsealed in Fresno federal court allege that four men used drones to smuggle drugs and other contraband into California prisons.

U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced the charges Thursday in a news release.

The bust of the suspected ring follows published reports that drones are frequently used to supply inmates with illicit goods in the United States.

Last summer, Wired published a story under the headline “Drone Contraband Deliveries Are Rampant at US Prisons.”

And, The Los Angeles Times reported this week a sheriff’s official testified at a recent trial that deputies shot down a drone flying over a Los Angeles County jail complex in Castaic.

The Charges

All four men are accused of unlawful use of drones and not having a Federal Aviation Administration drone operator certificate.

Here is a look at the defendants and other allegations:

— Michael Ray Acosta, 48, an inmate at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, is charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, and using a cellphone in aid of racketeering.

— Jose Enrique Oropeza, 34, of Colton, is charged with possessing heroin and marijuana with intent to distribute the drugs.

— Rosendo Rene Ramirez, 34, of Sacramento, is charged with conspiracy to distribute meth, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana; distributing and possessing with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine; and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

— David Ramirez Jr., 34, of Sacramento, is charged with conspiracy to distribute meth, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana.

How the Smuggling Ring Allegedly Operated

According to court documents, from January through December 2021, Acosta used a contraband cellphone to coordinate multiple drone deliveries at night into Pleasant Valley State Prison and other state prisons.

Oropeza, Rosendo Ramirez, and David Ramirez Jr. flew the drones, which dropped the packages into the prisons. Acosta and his associates then distributed drugs and other items to inmates.

The packages that Acosta helped to smuggle into the prisons contained meth, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, cellphones, cellphone accessories, butane oil, and other items, court documents state.

The other inmate facilities breached by the drones, according to prosecutors, were the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, Corcoran; Salinas Valley State Prison, High Desert State Prison in Susanville, and California State Prison, Sacramento.

The case is the fruit of an investigation by the FBI, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the FAA.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Antonio J. Pataca is prosecuting the case.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

CA Home Prices Near $1 Million Average. What do Central Valley Homes Cost?

DON'T MISS

American Airlines Retreats After Blaming a 9-Year-Old for Not Seeing a Hidden Camera in a Lavatory

DON'T MISS

Explorers Find What They Believe Is World War II Ace Richard Bong’s Downed Plane in South Pacific

DON'T MISS

Giants Rally From a Big Deficit Again and Spoil a Solid Start by Paul Skenes in 7-6 Win Over Pirates

DON'T MISS

This Sweet Tradition Is Sure to Bring Out the Crowds at Fresno State’s Farm Market

DON'T MISS

Long-Term Mortgage Rates Ease for Third Straight Week, Dipping to Just Below 7%

DON'T MISS

General Sherman Passes Health Check but World’s Largest Trees Face Growing Climate Threats

DON'T MISS

Sheriff’s Memorial for Fallen Officers: In Valor There Is Hope

DON'T MISS

Charlie Colin, Founding Member of Train, Dies at 58 After Slipping in Shower

DON'T MISS

Cavaliers Fire Coach J.B. Bickerstaff Despite Making Second Round of Playoffs

UP NEXT

American Airlines Retreats After Blaming a 9-Year-Old for Not Seeing a Hidden Camera in a Lavatory

UP NEXT

Explorers Find What They Believe Is World War II Ace Richard Bong’s Downed Plane in South Pacific

UP NEXT

Giants Rally From a Big Deficit Again and Spoil a Solid Start by Paul Skenes in 7-6 Win Over Pirates

UP NEXT

This Sweet Tradition Is Sure to Bring Out the Crowds at Fresno State’s Farm Market

UP NEXT

Long-Term Mortgage Rates Ease for Third Straight Week, Dipping to Just Below 7%

UP NEXT

General Sherman Passes Health Check but World’s Largest Trees Face Growing Climate Threats

UP NEXT

Sheriff’s Memorial for Fallen Officers: In Valor There Is Hope

UP NEXT

Charlie Colin, Founding Member of Train, Dies at 58 After Slipping in Shower

UP NEXT

Cavaliers Fire Coach J.B. Bickerstaff Despite Making Second Round of Playoffs

UP NEXT

Carr Brothers Donate $250K to Valley Children’s Hospital

Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

Giants Rally From a Big Deficit Again and Spoil a Solid Start by Paul Skenes in 7-6 Win Over Pirates

2 hours ago

This Sweet Tradition Is Sure to Bring Out the Crowds at Fresno State’s Farm Market

2 hours ago

Long-Term Mortgage Rates Ease for Third Straight Week, Dipping to Just Below 7%

2 hours ago

General Sherman Passes Health Check but World’s Largest Trees Face Growing Climate Threats

2 hours ago

Sheriff’s Memorial for Fallen Officers: In Valor There Is Hope

3 hours ago

Charlie Colin, Founding Member of Train, Dies at 58 After Slipping in Shower

4 hours ago

Cavaliers Fire Coach J.B. Bickerstaff Despite Making Second Round of Playoffs

5 hours ago

Carr Brothers Donate $250K to Valley Children’s Hospital

5 hours ago

Cal Chamber’s Job Killer List Shrinks, but Does Its Influence?

5 hours ago

Supreme Court Finds No Bias Against Black Voters in a South Carolina Congressional District

6 hours ago

Porchfest Victims Use Fresno Council Meeting to Demand That DA File Hate Crime Charges

The victims of the Porchfest attack want the district attorney to pursue hate crime charges against their alleged assailant. Zahra Al, Lana ...

1 second ago

1 second ago

Porchfest Victims Use Fresno Council Meeting to Demand That DA File Hate Crime Charges

30 mins ago

CA Home Prices Near $1 Million Average. What do Central Valley Homes Cost?

1 hour ago

American Airlines Retreats After Blaming a 9-Year-Old for Not Seeing a Hidden Camera in a Lavatory

1 hour ago

Explorers Find What They Believe Is World War II Ace Richard Bong’s Downed Plane in South Pacific

2 hours ago

Giants Rally From a Big Deficit Again and Spoil a Solid Start by Paul Skenes in 7-6 Win Over Pirates

2 hours ago

This Sweet Tradition Is Sure to Bring Out the Crowds at Fresno State’s Farm Market

2 hours ago

Long-Term Mortgage Rates Ease for Third Straight Week, Dipping to Just Below 7%

2 hours ago

General Sherman Passes Health Check but World’s Largest Trees Face Growing Climate Threats

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend