On March 13, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, Nicolo Denichilo and Adrian Goolcharran were charged by criminal complaint with one count of conspiring to smuggle contraband and defraud the United States, and one count of smuggling contraband into the Federal prison at Fort Dix in New Jersey. Denichilo was arrested on March 12, 2020, and Goolcharran surrendered on March 17, 2020.
According to the complaint, beginning in July 2018, someone used a drone to make at least seven deliveries of contraband—marijuana, steroids, syringes, cell phones, and cell phone equipment—to inmates at Fort Dix. Goolcharran allegedly used cell phones to coordinate the drops with others, sending text messages with aerial shots of Fort Dix to better position the drops, and to discuss weather conditions.
On March 12, 2020, law enforcement agents approached Denichilo and another individual at a drone launch site near Fort Dix, minutes after prison officials observed a drone flying over an inmate housing unit. Both men fled, and Denichilo was apprehended hiding in a ditch near the launch site. At the drone drop inside the prison, officials found an inmate with 34 cell phones, 9 chargers, 51 SIM cards, and other telephone equipment. Agents also seized an SUV with a drone in the backseat near the launch site.
DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation with the Department of Justice OIG and U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey is prosecuting the case.
Note: Indictments, informations, and criminal complaints are only accusations by the Government. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.