TAMPA, FL (HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY) - A news story published on tampabay.com reports that a nurse working for the Hillsborough County Jail has been arrested for allegedly smuggling illegal drugs into the jail. According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, the jail's nurse would smuggle in the illicit narcotics and give them to an inmate at the jail, who would then sell the drugs to the inmates at the Falkenburg Road Jail.
The nurse was arrested after an internal investigation discovered that the nurse was bringing illegal drugs into the jail facility. The 32-year-old nurse had been working at the Falkenburg Road jail for about six months and was an employee provided by NaphCare. NaphCare contracts with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office to provide healthcare workers and medical services to the jail's inmates.
According to a news release, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Officer detectives discovered evidence that the inmate suggested that the nurse bring drugs into the jail on March 30, 2021. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office found that the nurse then passed the drugs to a 40-year-old inmate who was booked into the jail for violation of probation charges.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies apprehended the nurse on Friday and booked her with criminal charges of "Conspiracy to Introduce Contraband in a Detention Facility" and "Introduction of Contraband into a Detention Facility." The inmate was charged with "Introduction of Contraband into a Detention Facility."
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Deputies also arrested a 46-year-old woman who told Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies that she picked up illegal drugs such as methamphetamine and heroin. She then delivered the illegal drugs to give to the nurse. She faces two criminal charges, "Conspiracy to Introduce Contraband in a Detention Facility" and "Delivery of a Controlled Substance."
According to the Florida Department of Health, the nurse was registered as a certified nursing assistant and a licensed practical nurse. The suspect was released from jail on a bail bond of $6,000. According to Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Merissa Lynn, the 46-year-old woman was booked into jail and was not given bail because she was on probation for other felony criminal charges.
The nurse was interviewed previously by a Times reporter concerning the difficulty of adjusting to life at a jail dealing with the coronavirus. In that April 2020 interview, the suspect stated that she had lost a job at Applebee's due to the coronavirus.
According to Florida Criminal Statute 944.47 - Introduction, removal, or possession of contraband; unless authorized by the corrections officer in charge of the correctional institution, it is illegal to transport into or onto the any state correctional institution property or attempt to take or take, or attempt to send, or send any:
- controlled substance as defined in Florida Statute 893.02,
- marijuana as defined in Statute 381.986,
- hemp as defined in Statute 581.217,
- industrial hemp as defined in Statute 1004.4473,
- or any over-the-counter or prescription drug that produces a stimulating, hypnotic, or depressing effect.
Florida State Statute 944.47 lists several forms of non-drug-related contraband.
Under Florida State Statute 944.47(2)(a), an individual who violates Statute 944-47 pertaining to illegal contraband as described in subparagraph (1)(a)1 through subparagraph (1)(a)6 has committed a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and a $5,000 fine as provided in State Statutes 775.082, 775.083, and 775.084. An individual who violates the section as it pertains to contraband as described in subparagraph (1)(a)7 commits a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable as provided in Statute 775.082 or Statute 775.083. Otherwise, a violation of this Statute is a second-degree felony punishable as presented in Statutes 775.082, 775.083, or 775.084.