Kerri Jo Hickman didn’t cut corners while crafting her care packages.
Cellphones, chargers, ear buds and digital scales, were all crammed tight into plastic bottles. They contained tobacco, methamphetamine and marijuana, too. Officials say she was ready to deliver the goods on March 10 and drove the items to the North Fork Correction Center in Sayre, Okla., more than 120 miles west of Oklahoma City.
Aiming a T-shirt cannon from the window of her vehicle, Hickman fired one of the contraband-filled bottles over the prison fence, Matt Elliot, spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, told The Washington Post. The aerial drop-off was immediately noticed by prison staff, who reportedly saw the package “fly out of the vehicle” and onto prison grounds, where it landed near a housing unit.
“The type of stuff [she sent over] is pretty common, but the method she used to launch the package over the fence . . . that was new,” Elliot said.
The housing unit was immediately locked down, and officials are investigating to determine which inmate, or inmates, Hickman may have been targeting. She drove off after firing the first bottle and hopped on Interstate 40, where Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers arrested Hickman on charges of drug trafficking, conspiracy and introducing contraband into a correctional facility, authorities said.
Police found more packages and the T-shirt cannon in her car, Elliot added.
Elliot said he’s seen people use all sorts of methods to sneak contraband into prisons, but Hickman’s alleged use of a T-shirt cannon was unusual. He called the smuggling of illicit items into correctional facilities a “sinister” problem that can perpetuate prison fights and lead to corruption among staff members.
Cellphones are particularly problematic as they are often used by prisoners to orchestrate future drops. The method allegedly used by Hickman, he added, was a “novel approach to a bad idea.”
Hickman did not have an attorney listed in Oklahoma Court records. She was still booked in the Beckham County jail as of Tuesday night.