Smith, Tavona Onisha
Date of Booking:
Reason(s) For Booking:
Conspiracy to Commit Crime
Possession of drugs, weapons, or alcohol by inmates
Possession Marijuana less than 1 ounce
[Please note: The following is a direct transcription from the officer’s narrative report. We do not fix any spelling or grammatical errors. Any changes made by our staff are placed inside brackets. Some errors may exist.]
On Friday, May 28, 2022 at 0444 hours I, Deputy Andrew Emmons with the Houston County Sheriffs Office was sitting stationary on Elko Road at its intersection of County Line Road Elko, GA. I was stationed at that intersection due to information from the Georgia Department of Corrections that people are smuggling contraband into Dooly State Prison.
From the intersection I was sitting at the prison was less than a mile east of my location. I observed a dark colored vehicle traveling south on Elko Road. The vehicle appeared to be slowing down as if it was preparing to turn onto County Line Rd, which is the road that is behind Dooly State Prison.
I believed the vehicle was going to turn due to the vehicle slowing down. The vehicle then suddenly picked up speed and continued straight on Elko Rd. When the vehicle first slowed down, I believed I was within sight for the driver to see me. I suspected this is why the driver did not turn and continued straight.
As the vehicle passed me I observed it did not have any tag lights and the vehicle had a left tail light out. I proceeded to get behind the vehicle. We traveled into Dooly County. I proceeded to initiate a traffic stop on the vehicle by using my blue lights and siren.
The vehicle yielded to my emergency lights. I ran the temporary tag [REDACTED BY AGENCY] through Houston-911. Houston-911 advised the 2013 black Kia Sorento had a valid tag and valid registration.
I made a passenger side approach on the vehicle. As I came up to the window of the vehicle I could smell the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. There also was a passenger in the rear right seat of the vehicle. I advised the driver of the reason for the traffic stop.
I asked her for her drivers license. She gave me a paper copy of her drivers license. I went back to my patrol vehicle and asked Houston-911 to send me another unit. I ran the driver by her driver license number. Tavona Smith had a valid driver license.
Deputy Dixon arrived on scene. I advised Tavona to step out of the vehicle. I advised her to step to the front of my patrol vehicle. I asked the passenger to step out of the vehicle. I asked Deputy Dixon to get her information. Deputy Dixon ran her name and date of birth. Houston-911 advised Jennla Ralpho had a valid drivers license.
I advised both of them due to the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle it gave me probable cause to search the vehicle. I read both Tavona and Jennla the Miranda Warning. Tavona stated she did want to speak to me at this time. Jennla stated she did not want to speak to me at this time.
I asked Tavona when was the last time she smoked marijuana inside the vehicle. She stated around two days ago. I asked her if I was going to find anything inside of the vehicle. She advised no. I asked her where were they coming from. She advised they were coming from Atlanta, GA and headed to Florida. I asked her when did she meet Jennla. She told me she met her two to three months ago in Atlanta.
I started my search of the vehicle in the passenger seat of the vehicle. I did observe suspected marijuana “shake” on the floor board of the vehicle. I proceeded to go to the back passenger seat of the vehicle. In the rear right of the vehicle I observed a silver and black book bag in the right passenger seat floor board. I asked Tavona who’s bookbag was it. Jennla advised it was her bookbag.
Inside the bookbag there was a package that was wrapped in black duck tape. I took it to the front of my patrol vehicle and asked Tavona who’s did it belong to. She advised she had never seen that. I kept it on the hood of my patrol vehicle and went back to the vehicle. Also inside the bookbag there were two batteries.
I went to the back left passenger side of the vehicle. In the back left passenger side of the vehicle I observed 2 vacuumed sealed packages filled with what appeared to be tobacco. Both of the packages had a zip tie that was taped to the packages. I placed them on the hood of my patrol vehicle.
I went back to the left passenger side of the vehicle. There was a white unmanned aerial vehicle (drone). I took the drone out of the vehicle. The drone had a silver cable that was attached to the rear of the drone. I placed the drone on the hood of my patrol vehicle. The two batteries that were found in the book bag matched the battery that was inside the drone.
I went to the driver side of the vehicle. I did not find anything in the driver side of the vehicle.
I went to the trunk of the vehicle. On the left side of the trunk I observed a black box. I opened the box and observed another vacuumed sealed bag with a zip tie tapped to the package. Inside the package I could see a pack of “black and mild” cigars. I placed it on the hood of my patrol vehicle.
Before I opened the packages I took pictures of the vehicle and where the items were found. Pictures were taken of the packages before I opened them as well. I asked Tavona if she knew what were in the packages. She did not know what was in the packages.
I opened the black duck tape package first. Inside the packages were individual rapped items inside the tape. Each item that was found in the black duck tape was packaged separately.
In the package I found a electric tooth brush, three syringes that were labeled paste, one syringe that was labeled “Etchant.” Also in the packaging was disposable PE Isolation Sleeves, two packs of Stainless steel Lower, two packs of clear small brushes, tweezers, rubber band, an orange plate, and a blue needle.
Due to the items in the packages and the recent information the sheriffs office had received from the Department of Corrections regarding individuals flying drones over the prison to smuggle contraband into the prison, I contacted Sergeant Noler.
He advised he was going to make a phone call. Sergeant Noler advised Investigator Ben Taylor with the Georgia Department of Corrections was on his way to my location. While he was on his way I continued with my investigation.
I then opened the vacuumed sealed packages that had the tobacco inside. Inside the tobacco there was one cellular phone per package. There was also several charging cables inside of both the packages.
There were two pairs of head phones. The packages had one set of head phones in each. I opened the package that had the black and mild cigars inside of it. Inside the package were two phones, 12 black and milds and rolling paper.
Investigator Taylor arrived on scene at this time. I advised him of the incident. I advised him of the findings. He advised me that Dooly State Prison has been having issues with people flying drones over the prison with contraband attached and dropping the contraband inside the fence. He advised me of what he believed the material was.
He looked at the content that was in the duck tape. He advised these items were commonly used as a makeshift tattoo kits by inmates in the prison. The vacuumed sealed bags with the zip tie attached to it was how the drone was able to take them over the prison wall and were able to drop them.
The electronic items were protected with the tobacco that was covering them when it would be dropped from the drone. The wire attached to the drone was the wire that the items were hung off of and flown over the prison.
I placed Jennla in the rear right of Deputy Dixons patrol vehicle while we interviewed Tavona. She advised she was met by Jennla and a guy in Atlanta, GA. The guy gave them a drone and advised them to go to an address off of Elko Road that was behind the Dooly State Prison.
The packages and the content that was inside of them were taken into evidence. The drone and the drone case were also taken for evidence. Tavona and Jennla’s phones were also taken as evidence.
I asked Houston-911 to send the on-call wrecker service. They advised Peach State Towing was in route. Tavona was placed into the rear of Deputy Dixons patrol vehicle. Deputy Dixon transported them to the Houston County Detention Center while I stood by for the wrecker service.
Peach state Towing arrived and removed the vehicle. A tow log was completed.
I transported the evidence to the Houston County Sheriffs Office. The evidence was placed in evidence locker 16. The Drone was unable to fit in the locker. I placed the drone inside the drone case and attached a property sheet to it. I placed it into the patrol sergeants office and locked the door. I wrote a note advising not to open the door. Lt. Brainard later obtained the drone and secured it.
Tavona was given two citations. One for tag lights required. Citation number (A-250876). The other citation is for tail lights required. Citation number (A-250361).
Tavona and Jennla are being charged with criminal attempt (felony) possession of drugs, weapons , alcohol or tobacco product by inmates. The crime that was attempted was Items Prohibited for Possession by Inmates Without the Wardens Authorization subsection (B1).
Pictures were taken of the vehicle and the contraband.
Video and audio recorded in unit 820.
Nothing further at this time.