Contraband Arrests at GDC Facilities

**MORE THAN 349 CIVILIANS AND 67 STAFF MEMBERS HAVE BEEN ARRESTED TO DATE FOR ATTEMPTING TO INTRODUCE CONTRABAND INTO GDC FACILITIES.**

1) On Sunday, February 12, 2012, Correctional Officer Verlisha Thomas and civilian Teresa Ball were arrested by the Bibb County Sheriff's Office and Central State Prison Canine Unit. The two females were apprehended after they were observed dropping off 19.3 ounces of marijuana and 3 pounds of tobacco at Macon State College, which is an inmate detail location.

2) On Thursday, February 16, 2012, Officer Cheryl King was arrested by the Hancock County Sheriff's Office. Officer King could not clear the metal detector and refused a strip search at Hancock State Prison. After a search of Officer King and her car, the Sheriff's Office confiscated marijuana, two cell phones wrapped in black electrical tape and tobacco.

3) On Thursday, February 16, 2012, Telfair State Prison received a tip that Officer Christopher Cannon would be bringing contraband into the facility during his night shift. Officer Cannon cleared the entry checkpoint, however was questioned regarding his potential involvement in bringing contraband within the facility. A search of his vehicle was conducted and officers discovered plastic wrap, tape with tobacco residue, and cell phone chargers. Officer Cannon admitted he was carrying contraband and voluntarily surrendered three cellphones, two batteries and approximately two ounces of tobacco.

4) On Saturday, February 18, 2012, visitor Lisa Shiling was arrested for attempting to bring drugs to an inmate at Phillips State Prison. She also had a cell phone on her person.

5) On Saturday, February 18, 2012, visitor Mary Angela Opelca left tobacco, rolling papers, and matches in the women's restroom at Washington State Prison while visiting an inmate. Visitor Opelca was questioned and her vehicle was searched. Officers found marijuana and cocaine during search. Visitor Opelca later admitted that her real name was Patrica Lean Johnson and that she was on probation.

6) On Sunday, February 19, 2012, James Hester, Terrance Steed, Chelualinta Wesley and Artaka Gainey were arrested after a civilian observed a white male (James Hester) throw a package over the fence at Valdosta State Prison. The package consisted of four cell phones and chargers. The white male was then observed getting into a vehicle with one black male and two black females. The civilian notified the Lowndes County Sheriff's Department and the four individuals were arrested.

The Department of Corrections is committed to identifying and pursuing prosecution of those persons who attempt to introduce contraband into state facilities.

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