Inmates arrested in drug-mail scheme at Chesterfield jail

Sheriff Karl Leonard stated not one of the 4 inmates arrested within the mail-drug scheme had been housed within the Chesterfield County Jail’s habit restoration pods. Photograph by Ash Daniel

Six folks, together with 4 inmates on the Chesterfield County Jail, have been charged for his or her roles in a plot to smuggle medicine into the ability by mail.

The county Sheriff’s Workplace, which operates the county jail, not too long ago uncovered the scheme following a two-month investigation when a search of an inmate’s possessions turned up a letter that was discovered to comprise two dozen Suboxone strips.

Suboxone, a mix of buprenorphine and naloxone, is utilized in medication-assisted remedy of opioid use dysfunction. It’s administered through a movie that dissolves underneath the tongue and helps mitigate the signs of withdrawal brought on by opioid habit. Suboxone itself might be addictive and in some circumstances has resulted in overdoses.

The strips are simply hid between sheets of paper, underneath postage stamps and even underneath envelope flaps, making them tough to establish with the usage of X-ray know-how. They’re identified for use as forex in correctional services, the place they’re offered or bartered for different items.

In response to Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard, the alleged drug smugglers exploited a regulatory loophole concerning authorized mail that’s addressed to inmates.

Whereas jail workers conduct thorough examinations of all basic mail addressed to inmates, they’re prohibited from making use of greater than a cursory stage of scrutiny to correspondence from an lawyer, decide, clerk of court docket or different authorized entity.

On this case, the Suboxone strips had been hid between two sheets of letter-sized paper that had been glued collectively and mailed to the jail. The envelope was addressed to an inmate and contained a typed return handle label purporting to be from a neighborhood legislation workplace.

“It’s very upsetting that in a facility the place we attempt to assist folks overcome opioid habit, others would attempt to deliver these medicine into our jail,” Leonard stated in an interview final Thursday. “I discover it personally offensive.”

The county jail’s landmark habit restoration program HARP (Serving to Addicts Get well Progressively) marks its fifth anniversary this month. Leonard famous that not one of the 4 inmates implicated within the Suboxone plot had been housed in jail pods designated for HARP members.

Three of them – Jersey James Grant, Feraud Tyrell Freeman-Butler and James Logan Williams – had been already within the Chesterfield jail awaiting trial on different fees. The fourth, Devonte Anthony Terrell Boucher Jr., was serving time for grand larceny, felony probation violation and failure to seem in court docket.

All 4 males are dealing with extra felony counts associated to the drug scheme, wherein two ladies are also accused of collaborating.

Samantha Daulton, of the 800 block of North Hamilton Road in Richmond, and Erica Freeman-Butler, of the 200 block of Secretariat Court docket in Ashland, have been charged with conspiracy to ship medicine to a prisoner. The Class 5 felonies include a most sentence of 10 years in jail.

Freeman-Butler briefly was at giant final week. She was taken into custody after voluntarily reporting to the county jail Feb. 25, then launched on a $1,500 bond.

“We’re fairly assured this has not been a protracted, ongoing operation. We had been capable of nip it within the bud earlier than it grew to become a significant situation,” Leonard stated.

Following his workplace’s investigation, county administration approved the sheriff to rent a part-time civilian to deal with processing and distribution of basic inmate mail. That freed up a full-time sworn deputy to be assigned to deal with inspections of “authorized mail.”

Leonard is also working with members of Chesterfield’s Normal Meeting delegation, attempting to get state laws modified so his workers can extra extensively display screen inmate mail that seems to be authorized in nature.

“The medical group has made developments in know-how [such as Suboxone strips], however we now have not saved up with our insurance policies and procedures,” he stated. “We’d like extra latitude in inspecting mail for contraband.”

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