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Spelling mistakes trip up two men arrested for smuggling papers soaked in synthetic weed into 10 prisons

Dec 9, 2021 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
View the original article here.

Police believe inmates “would tear off strips of the A4 lined paper to smoke.”

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Two men have been arrested in connection with a scheme to provide inmates at prisons across the U.K. with sheets of paper soaked in drugs, including the synthetic cannabinoids mamba and spice.

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Two dawn-hour raids at separate addresses in Wolverton, U.K. ended with the West Midlands Police taking the two men into custody, notes a police statement.

“It’s suspected they’re behind a series of letters posted to 10 prisons that contained sheets of writing paper soaked in a solution of synthetic drugs like mamba or spice,” according to the statement. Police further believe inmates “would tear off strips of the A4 lined paper to smoke.”

  1. Man and teen charged after contraband found.

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  2. In total, five people have pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the matter, including three inmates and one of their wives. /

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  3. Sheriff’s deputies managed to intercept the package containing unidentified amounts of meth, cannabis and pills before inmates could retrieve it. / PHOTO BY GETTY IMAGES

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Testing has shown the sheets, sent between July 2019 and November 2021, were soaked in the water/drug solution before being oven-dried, says Detective Inspector Tom Bowman of the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit.

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The sheets were then “concealed inside envelopes claiming to contain private and confidential material, such as legal documents, in the hope they wouldn’t be open to the same level of scrutiny as personal mail,” Bowman explains.

So-called black mamba and spice have become generic nicknames for synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists, of which there are 400-plus, in the U.K., according to the country’s Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.

The compounds, which are not natural and are synthesized in labs, are designed to mimic the effects of THC in real cannabis by binding to cannabinoid receptors, explains a study published last year.

“There is no quality control and they are not been tested for suitability for human consumption,” adds the committee information.

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The ongoing scheme was foiled from proceeding when sharp-eyed prison security officers notice that letters, almost 30 of which have been recovered, showed discoloration around their edges.

Checking out the letters and noticing similar handwriting and common spelling mistakes, investigators were laid to the raided address. After forcing entry, men aged 41 and 33 were arrested, notes the police statement.

The raids resulted in officers seizing a drone, several “micro” mobile phones often employed when trying to smuggle contraband into prisons and several litres of a solvent used to dissolve drugs.

In the U.K., recreational cannabis remains illegal. According to Release, with most synthetic cannabinoids considered Class B substances — as is the case with cannabis — possession with intent to supply can result in a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.

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“This case shows that offenders will use increasingly innovative methods to try and smuggle drugs and other banned items into prison,” Bowman says. However, “working with the prison service, we are determined to stop the supply and put offenders behind bars,” he adds.

Prisons Minister Victoria Atkins notes that the arrests clearly demonstrate the importance of the government’s investment in prison security measures. “These all help us to clamp down on the drugs that fuel violence in our jails,” Atkins says.

But the U.K. case is not the first time drugs were smuggled into a correctional facility via paper.

Last year in Wisconsin, an inmate was nabbed after a fellow inmate ratted him out for having papers, including letters and children’s drawings, laced with spice sent to the jail where he was incarcerated. He was reportedly charged with conspiracy to distribute synthetic cannabinoids and possession of an illegal article.

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