By LeiLani Golden - bio | email THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) –Thomas County drug agents say more and more inmates are trying to sneak contraband into their jail. Many inmates are then selling the drugs and tobacco on the inside for top dollar.
We spoke to drug agents who say they're tightening their security, especially among work detail inmates, to stop the illegal activity.
A drug agent's job isn't always done when they put someone behind bars.
"I guess an inmate has all this time to figure out how to conceal and bring in drugs and contraband into a facility," says Special Agent Kevin Lee, commander of Thomasville/Thomas County's Narcotics Division.
Investigators say inmates dealing drugs in area prisons is becoming a big problem.
"I know a lot of different facilities are doing a good job screening but we've had a lot of people bringing in marijuana and tobacco. A lot of tobacco. It's very profitable," Lee explains. "This last time we had 125 bags of tobacco. Whoever is bringing it in gets paid and then whoever sells it get paid."
Authorities say one of the best chances prisoners have to smuggle in contraband is when they temporarily leave the jail for inmate work details.
"Anytime you have an inmate coming and going on these outside work details, there's the chance of someone smuggling something. So we're making sure these people are searched thoroughly before coming in."
Drug agents say the risk is never worth the reward in these cases.
"It's a felony. We charge them with a felony," Lee says. "It's crazy for these guys and girls to try this because they only have a short amount of time left. Whether it's probation, parole, whatever, judges aren't going to look too good at them because these are incarcerated people who are already serving time for a crime they committed."
And while catching the inmates with drugs is a top priority, finding their dealers ranks even higher.
"We're more interested in the person or persons bringing it to these sites. Because they're on the outside and that's our concern."
Which means some drug dealers may soon join their clients on the inside.
If an inmate is found with illegal drugs, agents say a federal crime will be added to their sentence. Tobacco-related offenses are handled in-house at an inmate's respective prison.