Multiple inmates, others charged in smuggling ring at Cascade County jail
Several inmates at the Cascade County Adult Detention Center and several people on the outside have been charged in connection with a smuggling operation bringing methamphetamine, suboxone, marijuana, tobacco, lighters and rolling papers into the jail.
Sheriff Jesse Slaughter said Wednesday that detectives began investigating the smuggling operation in June and the investigation is ongoing.
Inmates involved are Calvin Racine, Franklin Caplette, Guadalupe Galicia, Owen Hawley, Richard Houle and Anthony Beltran.
People involved on the outside include Traci Lamere, who is Caplette’s wife; Cory Gay, Galicia’s half-brother; Katrina Palmer, Hawley’s girlfriend; Lucy Hawley, Hawley’s sister and her boyfriend Antonio Lamere; and Ryan Beltran, Beltran’s wife, according to the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office.
Kalled Jaha, Anthony Beavers and William Claus were also involved on the outside, according to Slaughter, but were not in custody.
On Wednesday, the jail population was 474.
Slaughter said the scheme involved close coordination between inmates and those not in the jail.
The smuggling would typically occur as follows, according to CCSO: those not in custody would bond an inmate with a low bond out of jail. When the inmate got out, he would be taken to a location and be provided with different packages, which were made of either balloons, condoms or saran wrap and contained different illegal items including meth, suboxone, marijuana, tobacco, lighters and rolling papers.
After the bonded out inmate had the packages, he’d swallow them or insert them into their anus, according to CCSO.
The inmate would then be required to commit a new crime, or engage in conduct that would revoke their bond and send them back to jail, according to CCSO.
During the booking process at the jail, the inmates involved would provide detention officers with certain names and say they couldn’t be placed in the same pod because they were enemies. The inmates were required to say they had enemies in a certain pod to ensure the inmate with the contraband would be returned to the pod where other inmates were awaiting the delivery, according to CCSO.
The investigation involved detectives with the Russell County Drug Task Force, which includes CCSO, the Great Falls Police Department, Conrad Police Department and the U.S. Marshals.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Traci Lamere and Kalled Jaha were still at large, but warrants had been issued for their arrest.
Slaughter said Wednesday they were still investigating the case and was unable to say if there was a ring leader for the smuggling operation.
Slaughter said that law enforcement and detention officers do their best to search people coming into the jail, but they can’t perform cavity searches and lack the resources currently for a scanner.
Slaughter and Undersheriff Cory Reeves said Wednesday that they are actively looking to get a body scanner for the jail, but are working on funding since the equipment runs about $140,000.
“It’s an important safety feature,” Slaughter said during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
CCSO is also working on adding a drug dog, which would be used to find drugs in the jail among other tasks.
Slaughter said they’d need probable cause and medical professionals to perform cavity searches of anyone in the jail.
Reeves said that if they have a high suspicion someone has drugs hidden in their body, they can take the person to the hospital for X-rays.
But, that’s an expensive and intensive process, they said.
Slaughter said it’s also a concern that the baggies could break while inside a person’s body and cause an overdose or other medical emergencies. He said he’s also concerned that drugs could be distributed to a person in the jail who could overdose.
If they were able to get a body scanner, it would help stop drugs and other contraband from coming into the county jail and everyone would get scanned Slaughter and Reeves said.
Missoula and Gallatin County have added body scanners in their jails.
The scanner isn’t included in the CCSO budget for the fiscal year that started July 1, Slaughter said, but they’re lookking at potnetial grant funding and community support.
CCSO now has it’s own foundation where people can donate to support the department’s needs, including the body scanner. Slaughter said he’s changing the name of the foundation and will push out more information in the near future.
If anyone has information about the case, they’re asked to call CCSO at 406-454-6978 or call 911.