Man dealt drugs via drone, authorities say

Posted at 12:59 PM, Dec 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-27 12:59:31-05

RIVERSIDE, CA (KCAL/KCBS/CNN) - Police say a dealer took drug dealing to the next level by delivering drugs via drone.

The investigation into the suspected drug house took a wacky turn in early December, when police saw a drone taking off from the home.

They followed the drone, and the clever plan of Benjamin Baldassarre, the suspected dealer, was foiled.

"Creative. I didn't think he had the brains," ex-wife Jaclyn Baldassarre said.

She said she knew her ex-husband had a problem with drugs, but she had no idea he was dealing drugs out of his home using a drone until Riverside Police arrested him last week.

She said their 9-year-old daughter was there at the time. 

"She was afraid. She didn't know what to say," Jaclyn Baldassarre said. "And that was her dad. What do you say against your dad?"

Neighbors tipped police off to the possible drug dealing. Cassandra McDowell said at first, she saw people pulling into her driveway and making quick exchanges. 

"It was constantly. I'm talking 50 cars a day. It was huge. I don't know what's going on, but I couldn't stand it," McDowell said.

She tried to confront her neighbor, but she said he didn't stop. He just changed tactics. 

"He chose to do the drone after that because the other thing was just a grab and go," McDowell said."Then he took it to the air."

But police started watching.

They saw the drone leave the backyard of the home and drop off packages of drugs to customers waiting at a nearby church.

When they searched the home, they found methamphetamine, fentanyl in powder form and LSD-laced candies.

They arrested Baldassarre and his girlfriend, Ashley Carroll.  

Police say they've never heard of drug dealers using drones before, but now they're aware.

"It's something we'll adjust to," officer Ryan Railsback said. "If this is going to be the new way someone is going to try to pursue their criminal activity, then it's our job to get a few steps ahead of them to combat it."

Officials with child protective services took the little girl into custody and later released her to her mother.

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