By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
Drug charges came to 21 inmates at the Whitley County Detention Center this week after a week-long investigation by the detention center and the Williamsburg Police Department.
Six of those inmates were jail trusties, according to Jailer Ken Mobley.
The investigation began after Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird and Detective Bobby Freeman received information that inmates were receiving Suboxone strips.
Bird brought the information to Mobley.
“Suboxone is still a drug and we won’t tolerate any drugs in the jail,” Mobley said. “(This drug) is a big struggle for jails across the state.”
He explained the strips are similar to Listerine breath fresheners which dissolve on the tongue when ingested orally.
“We have to watch the envelopes when they come in,” Mobley said. “And take the letters out of the envelopes — they’ll stick those strips right on the paper.”
Jail personnel already monitor clothing, including underwear and socks, for this and other drugs and contraband.
“We put all (the inmates’) clothes in the dryer now,” Mobley said.
He added that one time a visitor had brought with them a copy of the Bible for an inmate, and when that Bible was checked, Suboxone strips were found on some of the pages within the religious tome.
“Williamsburg Police alerted us to the problem (currently at the jail),” Mobley said.
According to a press release from County Project Director Amber Owens, on June 15, Captain Jerry Privitt observed an inmate trustee passing Suboxone strips to other inmates.
As a result of this, Mobley ordered inmates in five different cells be drug tested.
Those drug tests showed 21 inmates were under the influence.
Mobley said those suspects’ names would not yet be released as the investigation continues, and he added that more arrests and charges are likely.
Chief Bird agreed.
“We are looking to identify the outside source supplying (drugs) to the inmates,” Bird said. “We have suspects but are still investigating.”
Those 21 who already tested positive for drugs will all be charged with first-degree promoting contraband, a Class D felony.
“I would like to praise my staff, Chief Wayne Bird and Detective Bobby Freeman for their help and continued support in this ongoing investigation,” Mobley said.