SPANISH FORK — A Tooele man booked into the Utah County Jail got in even more trouble once he was there after police say he started distributing methamphetamine and heroin to other inmates.
James Evans, 35, was booked into jail on Feb. 13. At some point over the next five days, Evans started trading meth and heroin with other inmates in exchange for commissary items, said Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon.
On Feb. 18, another inmate approached a corrections officer at the jail to tell him what was happening.
"(He) handed me a note that read, 'We need to talk in private.' When walking out with the inmate, he handed me a rolled-up piece of paper containing a white crystal-like substance and a black tar like substance," according to a police affidavit.
The inmate "stated that (Evans) had brought the substances into the jail and was giving them to other inmates," according to charging documents.
Officers conducted a strip search of Evans and "located a small plastic baggie that contained both heroin and methamphetamine," a search warrant states.
Cannon said at least three inmates were believed to have taken advantage of Evans' offer. Approximately 15 grams of meth and over a gram of heroin were seized from Evans. Cannon said 15 grams of meth could have kept him in business for a couple more weeks.
While smuggling drugs into the jail isn't new, Cannon said the amount of drugs Evans was allegedly able to get inside the jail is unusual. As of Tuesday, investigators weren't sure exactly how he did it, though Cannon noted "the ways they can get it in are limited."
All inmates who are booked into jail are strip searched, Cannon said. Since December, at least 10 inmates were found to be in possession of drugs, he said. Many times, drugs are discovered as the person is being processed into the jail. But for Evans to sneak that amount of drugs into the jail undetected was a little more unusual, the sergeant said.
"Every time we come up with a way of preventing it, they get creative and find another way," he said.
Cannon also noted that the jail recently purchased a new full body scanner intended to make smuggling drugs into the jail even tougher. The scanner is not yet in operation. The Salt Lake County Jail introduced a new body image machine called SecurPASS in 2014 in an attempt to cut down on contraband being smuggled into the jail.
Cannon said investigators don't know if Evans intended on being booked into jail in order to distribute drugs or coincidently happened to have them well hidden at the time of his arrest and saw it as an opportunity once he was booked.Comment on this story
Evans was charged on Feb. 25 in 4th District Court with two counts of drug distribution, a first-degree felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor. In November, he was convicted of attempted theft. A warrant was issued for his arrest for violating the terms of his probation for that case after his alleged incident at the Utah County Jail.
Evans also has convictions for aggravated assault, attempted theft and other drug possession cases, according to court records.
A second man who was also found to have drugs in his bunk that were allegedly given to him by Evans was charged with two counts of drug possession, a second-degree felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor.