Hank Investigates: Deceptive Deliveries

(WHDH) — A story you’ll see on just one station: It’s illegal, it’s dangerous, even deadly.

7 Investigates reveals an elaborate scheme to smuggle drugs behind bars: criminals are pretending to be attorneys. Hank Phillippi Ryan has the story.

Why are dogs searching the mail?

And machines scanning letters?

They’re looking for powerful drugs soaked into pieces of mail arriving at local prisons and jails.

“They’re always thinking. They’re always trying ways to outthink us,” David Tuttle, Superintendent of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office said.

The envelopes say they are from attorneys, which means they can’t be opened and read by the staff.

“We’re not allowed to read legal correspondence. In their mind, it’s a quick way to get it through, and obviously, it’s probably worked in the past,” Sheriff James Cummings, from Barnstable County said.

But they are not really from attorneys! Instead, someone on the outside is making phony legal envelopes and letterheads using real attorney names and logos.

Then they spray the paper with liquified drugs like meth and K2.

K2 is known to cause violent outbursts and even death.

Sometimes the mailers hide small strips containing drugs.

“Addiction is a horrible thing for these people and any way to get drugs they’ll try to do it,” Tuttle said.

Investigators at the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction intercepted fake legal mail that was soaked in meth.

Inside one envelope there was something that looked like a police report. But under this glued layer there were drug-coated strips.

Officials at the Barnstable County Correctional Facility found drug strips inside mail marked “attorney-client privilege.”

“It’s a never-ending battle to try to keep the contraband out,” Cummings said.

If the drugs make it behind bars, the paper is torn into pieces and sold.

Inmates can smoke it or chew on it to get a dangerous high.

“I do not want to call a family member and say that their loved one died in our care,” Tuttle said.

Sending drug-laced cards and letters to inmates became such a problem over the last few years that most local prisons and jails changed the way they handle regular mail: scanning every piece they receive and then making a drug-free copy that they deliver to the inmate.

Now, this new legal twist is making it even tougher to keep drugs out.

“To keep people safe is something that we take very seriously around here, we do try to balance it with respecting their privacy and their legal rights,” Tuttle said.

Officials say they have caught and prosecuted a few people for sending drugs to prisoners using this trick. But they admit it is very difficult to trace who is responsible.

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