A Jersey City man is scheduled to be in court Wednesday for allegedly using drones to smuggle contraband, including tobacco and cell phone chargers, into the federal correctional facility at Fort Dix, officials announced Tuesday.
Jason Arteaga Loayza, 29, who is also known as Juice, is facing charges of conspiracy to smuggle contraband and possession of heroin and fentanyl with intent to distribute narcotics, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
Arteaga was charged by complaint in November 2019 and arrested by federal marshals in Vermont on Monday. His initial court appearance will be before U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy in Burlington, Vt.
Two other men, Adrian Goolcharran, and Nicolo Denichilo, have also been charged with participating in the scheme. They have been released on bail, authorities said.
The offenses charged in the complaint carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and maximum fine of $250,000 for the conspiracy count and 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the narcotics count.
According to court documents filed in this case, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General, obtained evidence that Arteaga, an inmate at Fort Dix from June 2017 to September 2018, participated in multiple drone deliveries of contraband between October 2018 and April 2019.
On Oct. 30, 2018, Fort Dix officers observed a drone hovering above the roof of a housing unit, and soon recovered a bag that contained tobacco, cell phone chargers, and USB charging cables. In the same area officers found a cell phone that was likely used to coordinate the drone drop.
Arteaga’s iCloud account contained screenshots of google search results for “fort dix weather” in October 2018 and screenshots of live chats with an inmate taken days before the drop in which the inmate appeared to be inside of Fort Dix and wearing a prison uniform, according to court documents.
A few days earlier, Jersey City police officers encountered a man in the common area of Arteaga’s residence with multiple plastic bags containing cell phones. The man told police that he came to the address to meet Juice, the documents said.
During a search of Arteaga’s home in June 2019, agents discovered a kitchen closet with packages of empty cell phone boxes, chargers, empty boxes of SIM cards, and several phones, including a box that had been shipped to Arteaga the day before the drop.
The kitchen closet also contained a tobacco box consistent with the tobacco that had been recovered in drone drops. Each of the drone drops that followed the Oct. 30, 2018, drop contained cell phones or cell phone equipment, and one additional drone drop contained tobacco, the documents said.