Family Members and Inmates Charged in Organized Jail Smuggling Operation, LIVINGSTON, December 1, 2009 - According to Lieutenant Andy Lowrie of the Polk County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Division, an investigation has been conducted by the narcotics division involving the smuggling of tobacco and drugs into the Polk County Jail. The smuggling allegedly occurred for the purpose of distributing the contraband to inmates housed in the Polk County Jail. Lowrie stated that the investigation involved two groups which consisted of five inmates and their family member. The investigation revealed that the smuggling inmates were making $30 to $40 for a bag of Bugler cigarettes and as much as $50 for other items such as marijuana and prescription medication, items that could not be obtained by inmates while housed in the Polk County Jail.
According to Lowrie, family members would buy the tobacco and then drop it off at specific locations within Polk County. These locations were areas that were assigned to inmate work crews and road crews. Family members would also smuggle contraband into the jail where it would be distributed to inmates. "Some of the family members became bold" Lowrie said. "When fence around the back entrance to the jail came down and patrol unit parking was taken down for construction purposes, they would drive right through the parking lot to the back and drop off tobacco and drugs in areas behind the jail so that the items could be smuggled in later that night or the next day".
During the investigation, a recording was obtained that allegedly has the voice of Carrie Nelson telling her husband/boyfriend (Eric Rodgers) that she does not even do the drops anymore, but that her son does the drop offs for her.
Several of the inmates were looking at parole dates which have now been set off with new charges pending. One inmate (Daniel Lee Falls) was in jail after pleading to a charge of theft which he pled to probation and some jail time. Falls did not even make it out of jail before having his probation revoked on new charges.
The Polk County Jail is a tobacco free facility and has been since around 2006 when Sheriff Ken Hammack took over the Sheriff's Office. There are notices posted throughout the Sheriff's Office stating that the facility is tobacco free. Lowrie further stated that the parking areas around the Sheriff's Office are under constant video surveillance and that video is recorded and stored at the Sheriff's Office. "A second degree felony carries a penalty of imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for any term of not more than 20 years or less than 2 years with an additional fine not to exceed $10,000" he said. For suspects who have a less severe criminal history, they will likely get a term of felony probation.
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Other People Charged:
Candice Nicole Bernal: Bernal is the wife of Daniel Falls and has been charged with engaging in organized crime (2nd degree felony).
John Gregory Alexander: Alexander is the brother-in-law of Daniel Falls and was charged with engagin in organized crime (2nd degree felony).
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