POLKTON, N.C. — A Gastonia man allegedly went back to the prison where he was just released and tried to get cellphones and tobacco to inmates.
The crime has nearby residents frightened and some are concerned the contraband making its way into prisons could become even more dangerous.
The phones fell between this newly erected fence and the fence that surrounds the inmates.
Inmates at Lanesboro Correctional Institution immediately recognized the man accused of throwing five cellphones over the fence Sunday.
Lannear LaForte just got out of here on parole in January.
Department of Public Safety officials said what happened at the prison is a microcosm of what they are seeing across the state.
Gangs and powerful prisoners on the inside use cellphones to control operations, sometimes deadly activity, on the outside.
"I don’t feel too safe with that," resident Bob Hilderth, who lives nearby, said.
Hildreth's caregiver was shocked to learn that LaForte just got out on parole.
"It concerns me that this is happening so close to their home," caregiver Melissa Drye said.
In 2016, they had 582 instances of cellphones found in prisons throughout the state, according to the Department of Public Safety.
2017, officials found 517 cellphones.
"It's been a major issue and it continues to be an issue every day," said J.C. Huggins with DPS.
He said other state officials are looking into cellphone jamming technology and other tools to stop the infractions from happening.
He said this case of a man who just got of prison going back with cellphones proves one thing.
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