Ex-con accused of attempting to use drone to deliver pot to prison yard in Lincoln

A former convict is charged in a Lancaster County arrest warrant with using a drone to attempt to drop marijuana into the Lincoln Correctional Center yard.

Robert M. Kinser, 37, of Lincoln was arrested Thursday on suspicion of delivering a controlled substance, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

According to an affidavit filed by an investigator with the Nebraska State Patrol, an inmate on a work detail in February 2018 found a DJI Phantom 4 drone and two bags — one with just over half an ounce of marijuana and the other with tobacco and rolling papers — outside the prison at 3216 W. Van Dorn St.

Pedram Nabegh of the patrol said in the affidavit that an investigation determined that Kinser owned the drone and had operated it over the prison.

Nabegh said 13 photographs and six movie files extracted from the drone’s memory card helped to identify Kinser as the operator when it flew over the prison.

Kinser, who was convicted in 2001 of felony drug, assault and weapons charges, admitted to having owned the drone in an interview with Nabegh. But he claimed never to have flown the drone over the prison and said he had sold it within two weeks of buying it.

The sale was to have taken place with an unknown man at the Walmart on North 84th Street in Lincoln. Kinser said he made contact with the man after posting an ad on Craigslist, but he was unable to find the post or text communications with the alleged buyer on his mobile phone.

Nabegh said he then located flight data for the drone on Kinser’s phone.

The GPS data from the DJI accounts on the phone show that Kinser operated the drone directly over the facility on several occasions, he said.

Kinser’s fingerprints were found on black electrical tape covering navigational lights on the drone to prevent GPS tracking, allowing it to be operated in no-fly zones.

The drone had also been equipped with “an after-market electronic device” to allow for “deployment of the drone’s payload,” Nabegh said.

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