CINCINNATI -- Don’t swallow balloons filled with drugs and try to sneak them into the Justice Center.
Not only will you get caught, you may end up eating what you pass.
That’s what happened last month to Lamario Gilbert, 28, of Cincinnati, according to the jail commander, Major Charmaine McGuffey. Sheriff Jim Neil and staff held a news conference Wednesday to warn inmates about trying to slip drugs into the Justice Center, and they used Gilbert’s case as a cautionary tale.
Before a court date for trafficking in heroin, Gilbert swallowed 11 balloons filled with marijuana and Suboxone, according to McGuffey, Court & Jail Services Division Commander.
But deputies and investigators got wind of Gilbert’s attempt to smuggle the drugs into jail through his bowels.
“As our deputies were collecting these passed balloons, Gilbert made another attempt to save some of the drugs and/or destroy the evidence by quickly throwing two passed balloons into his mouth,” according to a sheriff’s office release.
“As Gilbert was chewing and attempting to swallow, deputies were able to recover the evidence.”
The sheriff’s point: attempts to bring drugs into the jail - by balloons or any means - could blow up in your face - or your bowels.
"Quite a dangerous situation, not just for him had those drugs burst, but also for that to get out into our jail environment," McGuffey said at the news conference.
Neil, who was elected sheriff in 2012, said he has taken extra steps to keep drugs out. The Jail Investigators Unit he formed stopped nearly 400 attempts to get drugs into the jail last year, he said. That includes 348 reports of drugs or drug paraphernalia attempted to be brought in through intake and another 45 along the unsecured jail perimeter.
“You can see by the stats we’re successful literally every day in confiscating these drugs,” Neil said. “I want offenders to know they’ve been put on notice.”
Why would Gilbert and other inmates take the risk of adding time to their sentences?
"They're going into a system that’s unknown and scary as well as going in there being addicted," said Bill Koshover of Addiction Services Council. "They're fearful of their withdrawals."
Others want to cash in and sell the drugs inside, he said.
Gilbert was already headed to prison for a year on the heroin charge. For his balloon swallowing, he was indicted on six additional felony charges that could get him 12 more years in prison, according to the sheriff's office.
“When we find the drugs, know you’re going to be charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows,” Neil said.