Seven people charged with smuggling drugs, cigarettes and other banned goods into Clay County Jail

March 6, 2013

Several inmates at the Clay County Jail who had earned privileges to work during their sentence are now looking at more time behind bars after police cracked a smuggling ring in recent months. Girlfriends of the inmates would allegedly leave drugs, cigarettes and batteries in bathrooms of the places these men worked, including the county motor pool and the animal control center, and the men would pick up the items and bring them into the jail, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. One of the inmates even allegedly gave one of the women $100 from his canteen account, which inmates use for snacks and other items during their time in the jail, the newspaper reported.

Now, all seven people - some inmates and some outside accomplices - are charged with conspiracy to introduce contraband into a criminal detention facility. And it's a charge can land them all in state prison - not just the county jail. The charge in this Clay County Drug Crimes case is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. Any incarceration on a Clay County misdemeanor case is always done in the county jail and the maximum penalty is one year. But, if a person is sentenced on a felony to more than one year behind bars, that time is done in a state prison.

Corrections officers started noticing more contraband being introduced into the Clay County Jail last fall and started investigating how the drugs, chewing tobacco and other items were being brought inside, the newspaper reported. Police used recorded phone calls, including some that inmates made from the jail, discussing what the inmates wanted and where the goods could be left so they'd receive it, the newspaper reported. Drugs were often left in bathrooms and were sometimes hidden behind postage stamps or photographs, the newspaper reported. The fact that police have phone conversations of the alleged planning of the transactions could be difficult to overcome. All telephone calls to and from the jail are recorded, and there's a disclaimer when people pick up the phone reminding them that police can listen to these calls. Despite that, suspects often say things on these public telephone lines that get them in more trouble down the road.
One element to watch in this case will be if there's a difference in the negotiations or sentences between the girlfriends and the men who were already in jail when they were arrested on these Clay County Drug Crimes charges. Police do not take very kindly to people who abuse their privileges in jail and it's very likely prosecutors will ask the judge to come down hard on the suspects, if they are convicted or end up pleading guilty to the charges.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Clay County or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Clay County Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.