INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Indiana Department of Correction police say they arrest roughly 6 people a month who try to traffic drugs and other controlled substances into prisons statewide.
The drug of choice at facilities nationwide and here in Indiana is suboxone- a highly addictive prescription medication used to treat heroin withdraw and pain. Suboxone comes in paper thin dissolvable strips, are easy to hide, undetectable by drug dogs and cheap. The street value is about $12.00 a strip, but behind prison walls, they go for $100 a strip.
Suboxone finds its way into Indiana facilities through the mail, smuggled in by visitors or by correctional officers who are paid off, said investigators.
State correctional police investigators are working closer with local and federal law enforcement agencies to stop the suboxone at the source. This partnership paid off this week when police arrested Mark Wooten, a correctional officer who attempted to smuggle 200 strips into a Pendleton prison.
The investigation also led to the arrest of 52 year old Sherrie Ausherman who was working with Wooten and her son who is an inmate in Pendleton. Sources say, Ausherman was a main supplier of suboxone to the Correctional Industrial Facility.
“I strongly believe if this criminal activity is going on, it a matter of time for those loved ones, family, friends that are supporting this and involved in this illegal activity will be caught,” said Christian Eloiza, Intelligence Coordinator for the Indiana Dept. of Correction.
Former correctional officer Mark Wooten bonded out of jail. Ausherman was arrested and taken to the Madison County Jail and is being held on a $20,000 bond.
Five employees or workers have been arrested for trafficking with an inmate in Pendleton since December of 2015. Correctional police say continuing to keep cell phones out of the hands of inmates will also help reduce the amount of drugs smuggled into facilities.
In 2015, IDOC confiscated more than 2400 strips of suboxone. So far this year, only 350 strips have been confiscated.