Smugglers Throw Footballs Over Fence to Deliver BBQ Chicken, Marijuana to Prisoners

Law enforcement intercepted footballs filled with contraband goods at a Mississippi prison on Monday.

Smugglers threw more than 25 packages over a remote section of fence at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution at 1:30 a.m.

Some of the illegal goods were sewn into footballs, which the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) noted "easily cleared" the correctional facility's double 18-foot-tall fences.

According to the MDOC, the packages contained tobacco, marijuana, cigars, cellphones and seven pounds of barbecued chicken wings, among other contraband items.

However, the footballs alerted the facility's sensors allowing corrections officers to quickly secure the area and confiscate all the thrown contraband.

South Mississippi Correctional Institution Superintendent Andrew Mills and Security Chief Michael McLendon also spotted the smugglers' alleged vehicle. The facility has since called on state and local law enforcement to search for the vehicle.

"We are making Mississippi prisons safer for inmates and Corrections officers by stopping the flow of contraband," said Burl Cain, MDOC commissioner, in a press release emailed to Newsweek on Thursday.

Photos by the Mississippi Department of Corrections
This image of the South Mississippi Correctional Institution’s was sent to Newsweek on December 10. Smugglers threw more than 25 packages over a remote section of fence in the facility on December 7. The Mississippi Department of Corrections

"Gang leaders use contraband as a way to control other inmates, and we're choking off their operations they've sent for decades to control prisons," Cain continued. "Now we're installing and using the latest security systems, drones overhead, and cameras and scanners everywhere plus we're recruiting and hiring the best and brightest criminal justice graduates."

Cain then noted Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves wanted to bring the state's corrections facilities "into the 21st century," a task which the commissioner believed they reached.

"Our enhanced security measures are making us better at seizing contraband at all of our prisons any time of the day or night," Jeworski Mallett, deputy commissioner of institutions said in the release.

"Clearly, we're making a dent because smugglers on the outside are taking extreme risks to help some inmates carry on illegal activities," Mallett continued. "We are also developing plans to re-open perimeter guard towers with marksmen armed with high-powered rifles. Everyone knows that trespassing on prison grounds is illegal day and night."

Inmates connected to the smuggling attempt will lose eligibility for early release and accumulated earned time, according to MDOC.

In January, a week after he took office, Reeves announced a series of "common sense" changes to correctional facilities to boost safety for prisoners and law enforcement staff following a series of violent deaths, riots and escapes reported in the state's facilities.

Update: This story was updated to include a new image of the South Mississippi Correctional Institution.