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Drugs in Carroll detention center rare but happens

Drugs in Carroll detention center rare but happens

It's not often that contraband makes its way into the Carroll County Detention Center but it does happen, according to law enforcement officials, especially in form of the drug suboxone.

"If you can picture a small Listerine style breath mint strip, that's kind of how these things are," Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees said of the easy-to-conceal narcotic that comes in the form of a sublingual film. "[Inmates] secrete them in areas where it is very difficult to find, and you can imagine what I am talking about."

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Case in point: A Westminster woman who was being held at the detention center for an unrelated violation of probation was allegedly found to have a suboxone strip in her cell during a routine search earlier this week, according to a news release from the Carroll County Sheriff's Office.

Kristina Marie Chesser, 23, of the 1000 block of Stone Road in Westminster was charged on Monday with possession of a narcotic and possession of a controlled substance while in confinement, according to electronic court files. She has since posted bail and been released. Chesser could not be reached for comment.

DeWees said he regularly orders so-called shake downs at the detention center.

"If I think for one second there might be something in the facility, I'll have my K-9 units come in, and we will hand search every single place in that detention center," he said.

It's not that common to find contraband at the jail, according to DeWees, but it does happen, which is why deputies conduct random searches. He said there hasn't been a weapon found since he became sheriff at the beginning of the year and that most controlled substances are easier to uncover than suboxone.

"Occasionally they will concoct some sort of jailhouse moonshine, for lack of a better word," DeWees said. "That's pretty pungent, so we know when that's being done, and we go in and take it from them."

But suboxone strips can be much harder to detect, according to Detention Center Warden George Hardinger.

"You can hide it in the lining of your underwear," Hardinger said. "It's easy to overlook, so staff do have to be really vigilant."

Hardinger said there have even been cases where people outside the detention center have melted the suboxone strips in water and used it as a sort of ink or finger paint for drawings or doodles they have sent to inmates who can then lick the image to get high, requiring jail staff be both vigilant and creative.

The irony of suboxone, Hardinger said, is that it was initially introduced as a way to help people dealing with an opioid addiction to wean themselves off heroin or other drugs.

"When suboxone was introduced it was: 'Oh, here's the greatest thing since sliced bread. It helps reduce the craving but it doesn't create a buzz,' " Hardinger said. "What they have found is if you have been in jail and off heroin for awhile, you do get a buzz. And in fact, it's one of the drugs of choice now."

Difficult as they are to find, detention center staff do find suboxone strips, according to Hardinger, often concealed by people who have just been sentenced or who are just locked up on weekends. They are found; they are removed; and when possible, charges are filed.

"We do have some people in here who are trying to get their lives together —trying to get off drugs," Hardinger said. "We do take attempts to smuggle anything seriously, but especially drugs."

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