A 33-year-old Union woman is suspected of smuggling heroin in a body cavity into the Franklin County Jail Wednesday, leading to three overdoses. 

A detention deputy at the jail was notified of a medical issue with a female inmate at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to Sheriff Steve Pelton. Then a detention supervisor determined she was overdosing on suspected heroin and she ultimately was transferred to Mercy Hospital Washington for treatment.

Two other female inmates, including the suspect, also were transported to the hospital due to overdoses. All three of the inmates recovered from the overdoses.

Investigators determined the inmates obtained the heroin from the 33-year-old woman while she was being held at the jail. She and a 25-year-old man had been arrested during the execution of a search warrant Tuesday in Union.

Pelton said the woman smuggled illegal drugs into the detention facility by concealing them inside a body cavity.

Union police executed a search warrant at a residence on Woodland Oaks Drive due to the suspected sale of narcotics.

Police arrested the two suspects at the home, and transported them to the jail pending charges. Union police are seeking charges for possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Their names are withheld pending formal charges.

Inside the home, investigators seized numerous items of drug paraphernalia, including about 110 empty pill capsules often filled with heroin and sold as “beans.” Union police said further investigation of two phones will determine if the individuals will be charged with distribution of narcotics. 

According to Pelton, an additional charge of bringing drugs into a detention facility will be sought against the female suspect.

He added the drugs could be from the same batch that led to the overdose deaths of four people, and multiple overdoses in which people were administered Narcan. 

Pelton said the drugs were sent to a lab to determine exactly what the mixture was.

Drugs in Jail

According to Pelton, there have been other instances of narcotics being taken into the jail. 

He explained that the clothing and items of people taken to the jail are searched thoroughly.

“If drugs are hidden like they were, it is extremely difficult to find them,” Pelton said.

He said a search warrant, signed by a judge, must be obtained before a cavity search can be conducted. That would require deputies or jail staff to have probable cause.

Pelton further explained that a high percentage of inmates have a history of drug use and it is not feasible to obtain search warrants for all of them.

“We don’t have body scanners,” Pelton added. “It would be a great tool to have but they are very expensive.”

He said the equipment ranges from more than $130,000 to upward of $500,000.