Drones appear to have become the latest tool for those wishing to smuggle contraband into prisons.
Four people have been arrested after a remote-controlled helicopter was allegedly used to fly tobacco into Calhoun state prison, Georgia.
Prison officers noticed the device hovering over the prison yard and alerted the police.
A similar attempt in Canada has led a prison officers' union to call for tighter security in jails.
Prison guards at the Calhoun state jail spotted a drone hovering over the prison yard and alerted police who began a search of the local area.
Inside a nearby car they found a six-rotor remote-controlled helicopter, between 1lb and 2lb of tobacco and several mobile phones.
Four people were arrested and could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of attempting to smuggle contraband into the prison.
"It is a surprise. I've never seen a helicopter," Sheriff Josh Hilton told reporters.
It follows a similar attempt at the weekend in a prison in Canada.
A drone was spotted flying over the Gatineau jail in Quebec on Sunday. Guards there failed to find either the device, its payload or those flying it.
Remote-controlled flying devices are becoming the tool of choice for those determined to smuggle in contraband, Stephane Lemaire, president of Quebec's correctional officers' union, tod the Ottawa Sun.
"Usually the drones are carrying small packages of drugs or other illicit substances," he said.
"Now that drones are relatively cheap to buy, they've become the best way to smuggle drugs inside," he added.
He said that the union had put pressure on the government to bolster security to deal with the new methods.
Drones, more usually associated with the military, are increasingly being used in civilian life to make small deliveries, from pizzas to vital medicines.