Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
Reports from the NSW Department of Communities and Justice show that in the last six months, there have been about a dozen incidents across the state’s prisons and correctional facilities in which officers have seized contraband drugs smuggled in by prisoners and their visitors.
Indeed, confined to a cell, it is perhaps not surprising that prisoners and those paying a visit often go to extraordinary lengths to sneak in prohibited goods.
In fact, just last month at the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre near Kempsey, correctional officers managed to capture more than $300,000 in opioids shrouded in the soles of a pair of sneakers that were meant to be sent to an inmate.
The officers from the Security Operations Group and intelligence team located 290 strips (9.6g) of the opioid buprenorphine drug after noticing the soles were glued on in a dubious manner.
Additionally, the officers discovered contraband drugs hidden inside shoulder pads and suit linings sent to inmates for legal appearances.
Since then, Governor Majid Marashian has praised the efforts of the vigilant correctional officers in intercepting the packages.
“The team did an outstanding job to identify that there was something off with these shoes before they ended up in the wrong hands,” Governor Marashian said.
“The attentive officers placed the sneakers through an X-ray machine, which confirmed their suspicions that contraband was stuffed between the sole and upper part of the shoes.”
The sentiment has also been echoed by Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin, with commendation given to the officers.
“I congratulate all officers on their commitment to prevent contraband getting into our prisons,” Commissioner Severin said.
“Every illegal item stopped ensures a safer and more secure correctional environment for both staff and inmates.”
Opioid Buprenorphine Worth Between $400 and $1,000 Per Strip in Maximum-Security Centre
Opioid buprenorphine, which is commonly known as bupe, is administered as a heroin replacement.
In a maximum-security centre, it is estimated to be worth between $400 and up to $1,000 per strip.
Meanwhile, inmates are supplied shoes and clothing by the prison they are assigned to.
However, in certain approved circumstances – such as court appearances, external leave and prior to release – they can also be sent private clothing.
The approved private clothing is thoroughly examined for contraband by facility staff before it is handed over to inmates.
What Visitors of Inmates Should Know Before Attending a Prison Facility
In many cases, prohibited goods such as drugs have been discovered on visitors seeing inmates, which is an offence in NSW.
In fact, it is also an offence for people to have banned items simply in their cars when attending any prison site.
Assistant Commissioner for Security and Intelligence Mark Wilson has previously warned that officers are always out in force when it comes to prison facilities.
“Anyone visiting a correctional centre needs to be aware that officers from the specialised Security Operations Group and their K9s are out in force conducting contraband screenings and this includes searches of any property brought on site,” Mr Assistant Commissioner Wilson cautioned.
“We make sure no stone is left unturned. Everything on prison property — whether it be a handbag, pram or car — is carefully inspected for contraband.
“Visitors also need to use some common sense and ensure they’re not driving into a correctional facility with a boot full of alcohol, tobacco, or anything else that is considered contraband in the custodial setting.”
When contraband is discovered, whether concealed in clothing or by other means, NSW Police are informed of the incidents and inmates can face internal charges.
In NSW, smuggling prohibited goods into a place of detention is a serious offence that attracts weighty penalties.
Prohibited goods include alcohol, drugs, tobacco, mobile phones, weapons, syringes and even lighters.
The offence of smuggling prohibited drugs (of no more than small Q) or prohibited plant without lawful authority into a place of detention carries up to two years imprisonment or $5,500 fine, or both.
It is also a crime carrying up to six months imprisonment for smuggling or trying to smuggle spiritual or fermented liquor into a place of detention.
Click here for an outline on the law on possessing or smuggling mobile phones, weapons or drugs in NSW.
Interesting Facts: an apology letter is used in court for drug offences if you’re being sentenced for a drug offence in court. It can significantly improve the court outcome.