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Man arrested on suspicion of air-dropping drugs into O.C. jail via drone pleads not guilty

A drone discovered Sunday by Orange County Sheriff's investigators in an Orange jail was carrying multiple illegal drugs.
A drone discovered Sunday by Orange County Sheriff’s investigators in an Orange jail was carrying multiple illegal drugs.
(Courtesy of Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

A 43-year-old Costa Mesa man was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of using a drone to air drop illegal drugs into the outdoor recreation of a local jail yard in the city of Orange, along with numerous other crimes, officials reported.

Investigators with the sheriff department’s Custody Intelligence Unit were advised of a drone discovered carrying narcotics into an open space within the Theo Lacy Facility on Sunday. The drone was found carrying heroin, methamphetamine, Xanax pills and muscle relaxers, according to a release issued Thursday.

A search for suspects led investigators to the Costa Mesa residence of Chey Cody Smart, where an executed search warrant located multiple illegal firearms, an undisclosed amount of fentanyl and a remote controller later determined to pair with the drone found in the jail, the release indicated.

Executing a search warrant at the residence of Chey Cody Smart, investigators found illegal firearms and assault weapons.
Executing a search warrant at the residence of Chey Cody Smart, investigators found illegal firearms and assault weapons.
(Courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

Smart was found in possession of a vehicle that had been reported stolen. Investigators learned he had also been renting his residence using fraudulent identification and recovered materials from the home determined to be associated with identify theft and fraudulent criminal activity.

He was taken into custody Tuesday on suspicion of multiple felony drug and firearms charges, along with grand theft, identity theft and fraud and was booked into the Orange County Jail. Investigators later learned a warrant for Smart’s arrest had previously been issued in Mendocino County for felony weapons charges, according to the release.

An online prison inmate locator maintained by the sheriff’s department indicated Smart, whose occupation is listed as carpenter, was being held in jail on $227,500 bail.

In a Santa Ana courtroom Thursday, Smart pleaded not guilty to a long list of felony charges, ranging from bringing or sending a controlled substance into a jail and possession of an assault weapon to grand theft auto and conspiring to commit a crime.

He also answered to seven misdemeanor charges related to stolen property, drug possession and falsely representing himself to an officer, court records indicate.

Megan Elizabeth Donovan, 30, of Fountain Valley, is listed in court records as a co-defendant in the case for two felony counts of bringing or sending drugs into a jail and for conspiring to commit a crime. Donovan was in custody Thursday and was scheduled to appear in court Friday.

Sheriff Don Barnes, in a statement Thursday, praised the Custody Intelligence Unit for employing an investigative strategy that identified outside actors and intercepted the transit of illegal drugs into a jail.

“We will continue to stay diligent in keeping those entrusted to our custody and care safe, and we will hold accountable those who attempt to threaten that safety,” he said.

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