Georgia Drone Shop Raided, Authorities Say It Was Front for One of State’s Largest Criminal Operations

Law enforcement officials in Georgia have taken down what they say was a major criminal enterprise that played a key role in drug smuggling and other criminal activities in the Peach State.

The announcement was made last week by the Georgia Department of Corrections, which detailed its “Operation Skyhawk” featuring raids targeting a network of criminal enterprises, according to WSB-TV in Atlanta.

The department said that the operation uncovered one segment of the criminal network in the form of a Gwinnett County business called Thunder Drones, a company that repairs and sells drones. It said the operators of Thunder Drones were responsible for using drones to drop cell phones and drugs into Georgia prisons.

GDC Commissioner Tyrone Oliver said investigators seized more than 50 drones in two raids on Thursday, and the owner of Thunder Drones, Robert Schwartz, was arrested.

“This will be the largest gang RICO case in the history of the state of Georgia and it originated by the men and women here at the Georgia Department of Corrections,” Oliver told the media, according to WSB.


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Mark Winne, an investigative reporter with WSB, was at Thunder Drones when the arrests were made. He asked Schwartz for comment as the man was led away in handcuffs.

Schwartz professed innocence of any criminal activities, saying, “All I do is repair drones. I’ve been doing, I’ve been repairing radio-controlled things for 50 years. I don’t know what they’re even here for.”

The WSBTV report is below:

The operation netted 150 arrests and led to the seizure of more than $7 million in contraband, according to the Georgia Sun, an online news site based in Roswell, Georgia.

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The charges brought against Schwartz and others include contraband smuggling, drug trafficking and illegal weapons possession, potentially leading to the state’s largest gang RICO case, the outlet added.

Among those arrested were civilians, prison staffers, and some who were already incarcerated in the very jails the drones were allegedly servicing.

The department of corrections. also reported finding 51 pounds of what investigators suspect is the drug ecstasy. The material is currently being tested.

“Operation Skyhawk” also resulted in the seizure of 22 guns and 273 cell phones.


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“We stopped roughly 170 prison drops during the investigation,” GDC Special Agent Gregg Phillips said, according to WSB. “We’ve arrested 146 individuals associated with contraband drops. Out of those, eight of them are correctional officers, or were.”

Phillips said investigators conducted “electronic interceptions on Mr. Robert Schwartz, his business here Thunder Drones, and inmates and associates of inmates.”

According to WSB, the GDC reported that while it was raiding the Thunder Drones business, two men drove into the parking lot and then tried to quickly leave.

The men were quickly stopped and a search of their vehicle turned up a stolen gun, WBTV reported.

“Georgia will not tolerate those who put our communities at risk by trafficking drugs, weapons, and contraband both in and out of our correctional facilities,” Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said, according to WAGA-TV.

“I want to thank Commissioner Oliver, the hardworking men and women of the GDC, and all law enforcement who worked to shut these operations down and help keep both Georgians and our correctional facilities safe.”

The GDC operation was assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Gang Task Force, WAGA reported.

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