Es­caped inmate may have used wire cut­ters de­liv­ered by drone

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

A South Carolina inmate broke out of a max­i­mum-se­cu­rity prison us­ing wire cut­ters that were ap­par­ently flown in by drone, of­fi­cials said Fri­day, de­scrib­ing a new and dev­il­ishly hard-to-stop means of es­cape.

Con­victed kid­nap­per Jimmy Causey, 46, was re­cap­tured at a Texas mo­tel be­fore day­break, more than two days af­ter bolt­ing to free­dom in a plot wor­thy of a Hol­ly­wood script. It was the sec­ond time in 12 years that he es­caped.

This time, he used a smug­gled-in cell­phone to co-or­di­nate the de­liv­ery of the break­out tools, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said. Then, with dusk ap­proach­ing on the Fourth of July, he cut through four fences and left a dummy in his bed that fooled his guards. He got an 18-hour head start.

When he was caught, he had about $47,000 in cash, an ID card and two guns, au­thor­i­ties said.

“We be­lieve a drone was used to fly in the tools that al­lowed him to es­cape,” South Carolina Cor­rec­tions Di­rec­tor Bryan Stirling said. He said in­ves­ti­ga­tors were still try­ing to con­firm that, and he didn’t elab­o­rate on why they be­lieve a drone was in­volved.

But an of­fi­cial aerial photo of the prison shows rings of tall fences and an ex­panse of more than 50 yards be­tween the prison perime­ter and the cell­blocks, mak­ing it un­likely some­one could have thrown or cat­a­pulted tools to him.

Kevin Tamez, a 30-year law en­force­ment vet­eran who con­sults on prison se­cu­rity as man­ag­ing part­ner of the New Jersey-based MPM Group, said he wasn’t aware of any other U.S. prison es­capes aided by drones.

Tamez said that de­liv­er­ing some­thing heavy such as wire or bolt cut­ters via drone would re­quire a so­phis­ti­cated plan and a pow­er­ful ma­chine.

“They have to land for you to get the con­tra­band off of them,” he said. “They can’t drop it like a bomb.”

Tamez said there is no easy way for pris­ons to pro­tect against the use of small, un­manned air­craft, other than hir­ing more guards to watch the fences.

Stirling said the state is spend­ing mil­lions to install net­ting at pris­ons to pre­vent peo­ple from throw­ing things over, but con­fessed that won’t stop drones.

“Now they’re go­ing to fly over the nets,” he said. “So what do we do next?”

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