Drone Crash at State Penitentiary Leads to Contraband Smuggling Arrest

Ever since drones have become publicly available for use by private citizens, there has been controversy surrounding how they are to be used legitimately and what role legislators may have in stipulating the rights and responsibilities of ownership.Privacy issues have been one concern, and a recent incident at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester illustrates another concern over the use of drones in illegal activity.

Late last month, a drone carrying a package containing several contraband items, including drugs, became caught in wire surrounding the state prison and was discovered by prison officials. The drone was reportedly attempting to deliver "hacksaw blades, super glue, a cellphone, cigarettes, marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin and other banned items" to inmates inside the prison.

An investigation revealed two suspects working together: one a current prison inmate and the other a former prison inmate currently serving probation.

While investigators say that the current inmate, Clifton D. Wilson, 43, is a co-conspirator in the case, he has not been arrested as of this writing. The former inmate, Marquis Gilkey, 29, of Tulsa, has served prison time for robbery and aggravated assault. He has been arrested and charged.

Gilkey was booked into the Pittsburg County Jail and was charged early this month with attempting to bring contraband (weapons/drugs) into a penal institution, conspiracy, kidnapping, and gang-related offense.

The kidnapping charge comes from allegations that Gilkey kidnapped a woman at gunpoint and forced her to learn how to fly the drone and fly it and the contraband into the penitentiary.

Because the drone was equipped with a camera, investigators who found the equipment were able to identify the woman, who frequently visited an inmate at the prison. The woman said that on a recent visit, another inmate approached her and told her to purchase the drone, and money was placed into her PayPal account for the purchase. A short time later, she she says, she was to meet a woman at a Tulsa restaurant to deliver the drone. 

When she arrived at the restaurant, she was also greeted by Gilkey, who allegedly showed her a gun and forced her to come with them. She says Gilkey threatened her and her children, beat her, and took nude photos of her and threatened to publish them if she didn't cooperate.

Both Gilkey and Wilson are alleged to be Tulsa gang members affiliated with the 107 Hoover Crips.  Gilkey's criminal record began when he was denied certification as a youthful offender for armed robbery in 2000. He was given a 13.5 year suspended sentence. In 2009, he was sent to prison for armed robbery and aggravated assault and battery, where he remained until 2013. He is on probation until 2016.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections website, Wilson has been in the state penitentiary since 1998. He is currently serving a 30 year sentence for robbery by force and fear after prior conviction of a felony. He is scheduled for release in 2029.  

 Image credit: Don McCullough