Staff at the Allen County Jail are always looking for drugs coming in. Still, drugs of all varieties make it behind bars, and are passed and shared among inmates.

On Saturday, an inmate nearly died of an overdose after jailers making their rounds found her unresponsive. According to court records, 28 grams of fentanyl were found in a body cavity.

“Quite frankly, that worker saved her life,” said Allen County Sheriff Department Chief Deputy Troy Hershberger said.

Jailers found more of the drug in a hard, rock-like crystal form on the lower bunk of her cell, where a cellmate slept. Both inmates were charged with narcotic drug possession.

Drugs can be hidden in body cavities, such as that case. Sometimes staff will bring it in and share with inmates, which happened a couple of years ago, Hershberger said.

Troy Hershberger

Inmates pass the drug to others using wrappers from food commissary or scraps of bedsheets. A small drug packet may land on the concrete floor and the small plop is loud enough to reach the ears of trained confinement officers, Hershberger said. Other times, the packet is scooted along the floor, again making a sound familiar to staff.

Even more advanced, drugs can be sometimes “kited” through the plumbing. Inmates temporarily drain the pipes and send the drug attached to a string through the pipe, then flush it to get it down to the next floor, Hershberger said.

A new jail built to modern standards that individualize plumbing and kept to one or two stories should put an end to “kiting,” and other attempts to share drugs, he said.

Typically, people who believe they’ll be remanded back to court because of a probation violation or some other problem are likely to try to slip drugs into the jail. Sometimes, people forget they’ve got drugs in their pockets, Hershberger said.

Despite the prevalence of drugs in Allen County Jail, Hershberger said his jailers work hard to thwart the scourge each day.