(USNewsBreak.com) – Prisoners behind bars receive mail. All correspondence goes through rigorous checks to ensure it doesn’t contain any weapons or contraband inmates can use to harm someone or barter for other goods. However, one jail — and a former attorney — has come under scrutiny after two prisoners died after receiving letters laced with drugs.
On Monday, November 20, authorities announced that they arrested 77-year-old Ronald Lewis on suspicion of bringing drug-laced documents into Harris County Jail, the largest county lockup in Texas, and distributing them to detainees between July and November. When police took him into custody the previous Friday, he had 11 sheets in his possession, which authorities confiscated and are testing. The retired lawyer reportedly received between $200 and $500 per delivery, and jailers had records of him having visited 14 inmates. Two of those prisoners died after coming into contact with the papers.
Attorney accused of smuggling drug-laced papers to inmates in county jail https://t.co/rJ4NlXrn54
— wvlt (@wvlt) November 24, 2023
Lewis’ arrest followed a months-long investigation by a new task force created by Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. The sheriff established the Criminal Investigations and Security Division following backlash over an increasing number of overdose deaths in the jail. So far this year, 19 inmates have died. Last year, 27 detainees died from overdoses while in custody.
During the probe, authorities confiscated “approximately 154 sheets of paper […] believed to be laced with narcotics,” per Lt. J Wheeler of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Forensic toxicologists identified the substance on the sheets as methoxy dimethyl oxobutane. The lockup has since stepped up security measures as well. Officials have increased scrutiny of jail correspondence and have placed drug-sniffing dogs in the facility. Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office is working to digitize all documents to prevent drugs from flowing into the facility.
Lewis posted bail, and authorities are prohibiting him from calling on incarcerated inmates while his case works its way through the courts.
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