Only On WCCB: Mecklenburg Co. Sheriff: Family, Friends Mailing Letters Laced With Drugs To Inmates

CHARLOTTE — Cocaine, synthetic marijuana, methamphetamine — all smuggled into the Mecklenburg County Detention Center, in many cases, by mail.  Sheriff Garry McFadden says some letters sent to inmates in jail are laced with different types of drugs.  It’s become such a big problem that sheriff’s officials bought a new screener that can detect any type of drug located inside mail.

“We’ll look at it, and we don’t see anything in it.  Some residents tear the strips off the paper, put it in hot coffee, or anything, and the drugs wick back into the coffee, and this is how they’re getting high,” says Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden.

“What happens is a lot of times individuals that are trying to bring substances in, they’ll put it in a liquid form, and then have it dried, and to the naked eye, it’s untraceable, but when you shift it over to the spectrum that this device is looking for, then you can detect it,” says Sgt. L. Houpe, with Mecklenburg County Juvenile Detention Center.

Here’s how the machine works.  A light passes through an envelope, then a sensor, and in a few seconds the machine detects what’s inside it.  1500 inmates are housed at the Mecklenburg County Jail, and up to 500 envelopes are processed everyday, letter by letter.

Sources tell WCCB News an inmate died in the Mecklenburg County Detention Center after inhaling the synthetic marijuana known as K2.  McFadden says he can’t confirm that information because autopsy results are still pending.

The sheriff says these aren’t big time drug dealers sending the letters laced with drugs.  He believes family and friends of inmates are mailing them.

“We’re simply asking the public and the family and friends not to do it because when it does happen, and then one of their loved ones dies, then they’ll want to say the sheriff is killing people, the sheriff is harming people.  If you don’t send the drugs inside there will be less harm inside,” says McFadden.

McFadden says he’s requesting a canine from the SBI to sniff out electronics.  He says inmates are also getting cell phones and phone chargers inside the jail.