Drugs hidden under postage stamps in prison smuggling scheme

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 22, 2011 3:51 PM
Drugs hidden under postage stamps in prison smuggling scheme

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Inmates and their loved ones were charged in a drug smuggling scheme involving narcotics hidden under postage stamps on letters delivered to the prison, authorities said on Tuesday.

"Operation Postage Stamp" resulted in the arrest of 11 suspects, said Lauren Bozart, a spokeswoman for the state attorney general. The investigation is continuing and more arrests are possible, she said.

Warden Joseph Gross, who oversees the correctional facility in rural Nesquehoning, north of Philadelphia, intercepted three letters with a drug called Suboxone slipped beneath the stamps, the attorney general's office said in a statement.

Suboxone is used to treat heroin addiction, and now comes fashioned into thin film strips similar to breath-freshening strips.

Five prisoners were charged with attempting to possess a controlled substance.

The other six arrested, none of whom is incarcerated, were identified as the inmates' family members or girlfriends. They were charged with attempting to furnish a controlled substance to an inmate.

Authorities said they mailed letters to the inmates with drugs secreted beneath the postage stamps.

The scheme came to light when officials intercepted telephone conversations made to prison phones, the attorney general's office said.

(Reporting by Dave Warner; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Peter Bohan)