An investigation into the mailing of an opiate drug to a prisoner in the St. Johns County jail has resulted in two arrests, along with more than 20 inmates testing positive for the substance.
The Sheriff's Office began an investigation last month after corrections deputies saw a female inmate who appeared to be intoxicated. After a search of the female cell blocks, a scheme to introduce a controlled substance was discovered. The drug was determined to be Suboxone.
Investigators say Hana Marie Colson, 29, the inmate, and Chelsey Marie Camerone, 21, of St. Augustine, conspired to send the drugs to the jail through the mail. Deputies said Camerone sent the drug to Colson, who was in jail.
Evidence in that case linked Camerone to a simultaneous investigation of an active meth lab at a home on State Road A1A South. On Wednesday, she was also charged with production and possession of methamphetamine and violation of probation.
More than 20 inmates tested positive for Suboxone, deputies said. Those inmates were given an additional 10 days of gain time on their sentences.
The Sheriff's Office is not identifying the inmates who tested positive for the drug, though one inmate currently in the jail who has received 10 days of additional gain time is Diane Santarelli, the so-called "party mom" who's serving a one-year sentence on her house party convictions.
Deputies said the drug, which is prescribed to treat addiction to heroin and powerful painkillers like oxycodone, was brought in on strips that dissolve in the mouth. The drugs were disguised behind stamps in the form of the dissolvable strips, deputies said.
"They would peel the stamp off, lick the drug itself, and that's how they ingested it, and became high, if you will," said Cpl. Catherine Payne, of the Sheriff's Office.
Prisons across the country report cases of its abuse among inmates because corrections officials say it is "more adaptable" than other drugs.
Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson, a former correctional officer said it can be tough to solve crimes that happen in jail, even though every piece of mail that comes into the jail is reviewed.
"It's just really difficult to control and contain everything that's actually happening and going on inside there, and the moment you see it is the time that you act on it, but a lot of times you don't see it," Jefferson said.