Southern New Mexico prison worker caught trying to smuggle drugs to inmate
POSTED: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 9:00pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 9:04pm
LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — A contracted female employee at the Southern New Mexico Corrections Facility was caught smuggling heroin and cocaine into the prison on Friday.
Corrections officials are calling it the biggest drug bust at the facility and one of the largest in the department after the employee handed over 46 grams of heroine and 26 grams of cocaine she was attempting to smuggle in a body cavity.
"We spoke with the individual, at some point she decided to voluntarily retrieve the item and give it to us," said Warden Steve Nance during a press conference Monday morning.
Nance said the woman had developed a romantic relationship with inmate Frank Morales, 31, convicted of trafficking a controlled substance, possession with intent to distribute and conspiracy trafficking a controlled substance.
"It was obvious by the telephone calls this was a romantic relationship," Nance said. "They had talked about the relationship and she did refer to him as a fiancee."
The Security Threat Intelligence Unit had been listening to conversations between Morales and the employee for about two weeks.
In one of the recordings Morales referred the employee in a romantic manner.
"Hi, you beautiful woman how are you," Morales said.
Nance said the employee, whose name is not being released at this time, had been working there since March.
She was hired through Aramark, a contracted company in charge of food preparation.
Morales, who is originally from Albuquerque, had been incarcerated at the facility since May of last year.
It's unknown if the two knew each other before that, but in recorded conversations they seemed to speak in code.
"We just walked around the mall, but we couldn't find you any specific jewelry that were under a certain amount," said the employee in a recorded phone conversation.
In a different conversation, it seemed as the employee had purchased the drugs and was going to attempt to smuggle them in.
"Just make sure you keep all my jewelry inside the jewelry box you know what I mean," Morales said.
On Friday when she went to work, officials already suspected she was bringing the drugs in and confronted the woman.
She turned over the heroine and cocaine stuffed in a balloon.
Officials said the drugs are valued between $4,000 to $6,000 on the street. On the inside those drugs can be worth up to $15,000.
Nance credited the hard work of the STIU for keeping the drugs out of the facility.
He said drugs function as money and can cause chaos with the population.
"Inside the correctional facility there is a market for the drugs, and we work diligently at every one of our facilities to control the introduction of this type of contraband," Nance said.
Up to six felony charges are pending for the female employee whose name has not been released yet.