Two RPAS (drone) pilots face a litany of criminal charges after being caught red-handed smuggling contraband into Kingston, Ontario’s Collins Bay Institution in January. According to authorities, this case marks the first time arrests have been made since contraband smuggling with drones began at the institution a few years ago.

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) estimates the institutional value of the seized contraband to be $75,000.

Mississauga residents Justin Paul Hurlbut, 35, and Michael Habib, 33, have been charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, trafficking fentanyl and heroin, participation in a criminal organization and three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Ontario Provincial Police inspector Jim Gorry said at a news conference last week he expects Transport Canada (TC) to lay charges against the drone pilots for operating an RPAS without a licence and operating an RPAS in restricted airspace. The pair could face up to $30,000 in fines from TC.

“CSC has a zero-tolerance policy for drug trafficking,” said Collins Bay warden Larry Ringer at the news conference. “Preventing and reducing the number of contraband items and illicit drugs in our institution is an ongoing priority.”

On the inside, contraband recipient and inmate Rene Christopher Pearle didn’t get off the hook, either. Pearle, 45, already serving a five-and-a-half-year sentence for trafficking, is now facing numerous counts of possession of contraband under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, participation in a criminal organization, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence of mischief and possession for the purpose of distributing cannabis.

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