Local inmates find new ways to smuggle drugs behind bars

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SALEM (WSLS 10) -The Western Virginia Regional jail is forced to temporarily ban inmates from receiving personal photos and drawings after intercepting mail soaked in drugs.

Keeping drugs from behind the bars in the WVRJ correctional facility is a constant battle for correction officers.

"It's a cat and mouse game," said Superintendent Bobby Russell.


Russell says when it comes to inmates and the need to feed their addiction to drugs, creativity is never ending.

"We have to try and stay ahead of the game," Russell said.

The problem started back in October when friends and family of several inmates were taking suboxone pills, liquefying them and soaking letters mailed to the inmates with the drug. Suboxone is similar to methadone. It is a narcotic that is used to treat recovering addicts by preventing withdrawals.

Russell thought they solved the problem by only permitting letters on white paper, so they could easily detect any stains. They recently intercepted a letter from an inmate that contained instructions on how to hide suboxone in photographs.

"I wasn't surprised about this. I was disappointed that they came up with a new way to do it," Russell said.

For now, all original photos will be banned from the inmates. Instead, photos received in the mail will be photocopied and the inmate will receive that copy. It's a quick fix for now, but Russell knows the game isn't over.

"I've been doing this for quite a while and I've seen different methods of bringing things into jails. This is just one other method. A week from now, there will be another method," Russell said.

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