A Union County man has admitted his role in a scheme to use drones to smuggle cell phones, tobacco and other contraband into the federal prison at Fort Dix, U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger announced.

Johansel Moronta, 29, of Linden, a former inmate at Fort Dix, pleaded guilty to possessing and obtaining contraband while in prison, by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo on Monday.

He also pleaded guilty to violating the terms of his federal supervised release, by beating up his girlfriend this past June.

Moronta took part in multiple drone deliveries while being held at the federal facility in Burlington County from April 2018 to March 2019, according to testimony and court documents in the case.

Packages that he helped smuggle included cell phones, cell phone accessories, tobacco, weight loss supplements, eyeglasses and other items.

While inside the prison, Moronta helped coordinate inmate requests for specific illegal items and assisted in the collection of payments, federal prosecutors said.

Rooftop drone drop

In one drone drop alone, on Oct. 30, 2018, he received a bag dropped onto the roof of a housing unit at FCI Fort Dix which held 127 bags of Bugler tobacco, 10 cell phone chargers and 10 USB charging cables, Moronta said in court.

Another former federal inmate, Jason Arteaga-Loayza, of Jersey City, previously pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme as well as to dealing drugs.

He was sentenced in September to 43 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton.

Fort Dix federal prison (bop.gov)
Fort Dix federal prison (bop.gov)
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Two other men, Adrian Goolcharran and Nicolo Denichilo, also are facing charges of participating in the same Fort Dix drone contraband scheme.

When sentenced in February, Moronta faces up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000 for the plea to possession of contraband while being a federal inmate.

He also agreed to another 14 months in prison, for violating the terms of his supervised release by assaulting his girlfriend.

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