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No contraband found in K-9 sweep of Hamilton County Justice Center

Posted at 12:57 PM, Jan 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-24 12:57:01-05

CINCINNATI -- Twenty-one K-9 units prowled through the Hamilton County Justice Center for about an hour Wednesday morning in a surprise sweep of the building.

Officers cleared 1,400 inmates so dogs could search common areas in each housing unit and inside each and every cell, bed, toilet and window sill.

"It's completely a surprise," said Chief Deputy Mark Schoonover, noting that it's just one element of their efforts to keep drugs out of the jail. "The most prevalent drug these days, as everyone knows, is heroin. It's also the most deadly drug, that and fentanyl. Of course, that would be on our radar."

Watch the sweep in progress in the Facebook Live video below.

Nine agencies combined forces for Wednesday's search. Dogs like Tango alerted his handler Officer Jake Tamasaka from Forest Park to just a couple cells, but no contraband was found.

Schoonover said inmates have been very inventive in the past, such as two years ago when a K-9 hit on a Bible sent in the mail to an inmate. What looked like a coffee stain on page 420 was enough heroin for about 50 doses, a lethal level if consumed by one inmate.

"These inmates have 24 hours a day to figure out how they're going to get contraband into this jail," Schoonover said. "Whether we find anything or not is irrelevant because what we're doing is sending a message that we won't tolerate this."