23 year old Hinds County Detention Center officer Lacardio Ward may have thought he was fooling other jail employees Tuesday night when Sheriff Tyrone Lewis says he tried to smuggle in some marijuana, disguised as a snack.
"When he was searched, he tried to bring it in in a Cheetos chip bag," Sheriff Lewis says.
The Sheriff tells us an ounce of pot was found divided inside a Cheetos bag and a Ruffles potato chip bag. We're told Ward was also caught with about 70 smokes, including cigarettes and cigars.
"It's my understanding that he was working with family members for pay to bring this in to certain inmates in the facility," Sheriff Lewis says.
Efforts to root out crooked employees have been ongoing since Sheriff Lewis took office in early January. He says more arrests will come in the dismantling of what he's calling a 'ring of corruption'; a few bad apples smuggling in weapons, cell phones and drugs, and helping inmates escape.
Sheriff Lewis says Ward was caught under his mandate that every individual be searched before they enter the detention center.
"You all should have went through that search as well," he told members of the media at his news conference at the jail Wednesday.
Unfortunately, that didn't happen. All members of the media signed in, but the journalists and photographers who walked in as a group say they were not searched with the wand.
Lewis was surprised to hear that.
"You should have been searched. If you have not, then somebody has to answer to that. I was searched when I came in. That includes me. If you have not been searched, you can look for some heads to roll," he says.
Members of the media were searched when they left the facility.
Meanwhile, after revealing last week how easy it is for inmates to escape through doors with faulty locks, Sheriff Lewis says he's left to depend on the county maintenance crew.
"They have completed fixing some of those doors we have presented to them. The key is to continue that effort on a regular basis," he says.
The Sheriff says all employees hired under his administration are undergoing strict training.
Lewis expects the Hinds County Board of Supervisors to have about $100,000 available at the next board meeting for some sorely needed jail repairs.
"My recommendation is, you get a company or several companies in to do a true assessment of this facility, to see first of all if it can be rehabbed," he says.
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