OSI aids investigation resulting in charges of using drones to smuggle contraband into a federal prison

  • Published
  • By OSI Public Affairs

In the early morning hours of Mar. 13, 2020, Special Agents from the Office of Special Investigations’ Field Investigations Region 3, Detachment 307, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., successfully concluded a 19 month-long joint operation with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General (DOJ-OIG).

The investigation led to two Hudson County, New Jersey, men being charged with conspiring to use drones to smuggle contraband, including marijuana, steroids, syringes, cell phones and cell phone equipment, into the federal correctional facility at Fort Dix, adjacent to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL). 

Nicolo Denichilo, 38, of Jersey City, N. J., and Adrian Goolcharran, a/k/a “Adrian Ajoda,” a/k/a “Adrian Ahoda,” 35, of Union City, N. J., were each charged by complaint with one count of conspiring to smuggle contraband and to defraud the United States, and one count of smuggling contraband into the federal prison at Fort Dix. Denichilo was arrested March 12, 2020, after federal law enforcement agents learned of a scheduled drone drop at Fort Dix. Goolcharran surrendered to authorities March 15, 2020.

The operation culminated Mar. 12, 2020, when law enforcement agents, including agents from OSI, approached Denichilo and another individual at a launch site near Fort Dix, minutes after Fort Dix officials had observed a drone flying over a housing unit at the prison. Both men fled, and Denichilo was apprehended hiding in a ditch near the launch site. Fort Dix officials also found an inmate in the area of the drone drop inside the prison in possession of 34 cell phones, nine chargers, 51 SIM cards and other telephone equipment. They also seized an SUV near the launch site outside of the prison that contained the drone in the backseat. 

The first drone was observed hovering above the roof of one of the housing units at the Fort Dix prison in July of 2018 and a bag of contraband was subsequently discovered on the roof. Since the initial drone drop, there is evidence of at least six additional drone drops.

Contraband that has been seized by authorities pursuant to the intercepted drone drops into Fort Dix includes marijuana, steroids, more than 160 cell phones, 150 SIM cards, 74 cell phone batteries and chargers, 35 syringes and two metal saw blades. Denichilo’s fingerprint was obtained from a plastic bag recovered from one of the drone drops at Fort Dix. Goolcharran’s DNA was recovered from electrical tape found on the drone used in a July 2018 drop.

The conspiracy count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and maximum fine of $250,000 while the contraband smuggling count carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

OSI was especially interested in the case because the drone’s flight path was in direct conflict with the flight path of Air Force aircraft, and concerns about the counterterrorism and force protection vulnerabilities posed by drone payloads that might otherwise target facilities or personnel on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. 

The charges and allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

OSI is the Federal Law Enforcement and Counterintelligence Agency of the United States Air Force and United States Space Force. OSI Special Agents are assigned to more than 260 field units around the world, serving the needs of their aligned commands.


U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General (DOJ-OIG), New Jersey area office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Guido Modano, and its Cyber Investigations Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Keith A. Bonanno

U.S. Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General, Northeast Region, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Douglas Shoemaker

Federal Bureau of Prisons personnel at Fort Dix

Federal Bureau of Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie

U.S. Attorney’s Office, under the direction of Supervisory Special Agent Thomas J. Mahoney

Pemberton Borough Police Department, under the direction of Chief Edward Hunter

Pemberton Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief David Jantas

Chesterfield Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Kyle Wilson

87th Security Forces Squadron, under the direction of Lt. Col. Patrick Bass