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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Houston Man Guilty of Attempting to Use Drone to Drop Contraband into Beaumont Federal Prison Complex

BEAUMONT, Texas – A Houston man has pleaded guilty to federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston today. 

Davien Phillip Turner, also known as Davien Phillip Mayo, 44, pleaded guilty to owning or operating a drone that is not registered, today before U.S. District Judge Marica A. Crone.

Prisons around the country have faced the problem of individuals using drones to fly over prison complexes and drop contraband items to the prison population.  According to information presented in court, on May 19, 2022, law enforcement officials in Jefferson County, Texas were alerted that a person was operating a drone on the property of the Federal Correctional Complex in Beaumont.  Law enforcement officers responded and eventually found Turner in the area where the drone was being operated.  Near Turner, officers discovered a DJI Matrice 600 Pro Drone.  Law enforcement officers also discovered several bags near the drone that Turner had planned to drop into the prison complex via the drone.  Inside those bags were tobacco, cell phones, cell phone chargers, various tools, vape pens, and other items.  Those items were to be sold by inmates within the prison.  Under federal law, this type of drone was required to be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration, and Turner had failed to do so.  Furthermore, to operate a drone under these circumstances, a certificate was needed, which Turner also had not obtained. 

Turner was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 12, 2022.  He faces up to three years in federal prison at sentencing.  The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.  A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

This case is being investigated by the FBI, the Bureau of Prisons, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, and the Federal Aviation Administration.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell James.

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Updated November 8, 2022