Prison Sentence For Ex-MCSO Detention Officer Who Tried To Smuggle Drugs Into Jail

Andres Salazar

On Thursday, authorities announced that a former Maricopa County Sheriff’s officer was sentenced to two years in prison for trying to bring fentanyl and methamphetamine into the jail where he was employed.

Andres Salazar, 28, was taken into custody in November 2022 when he arrived at Lower Buckeye Jail in Phoenix. This came after investigators discovered his intention to transport drugs to two inmates. Upon his arrest, authorities found fentanyl and methamphetamine in his vehicle.

In December 2023, he admitted guilt for soliciting to commit promoting prison contraband, pleading guilty to a single count.

According to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, Gilbert Anthony Lerma and Antwaun Travon Ware, who are inmates, and Khadar Omar Sheikh, a drug dealer, have been charged for their involvement in the plan.

According to a statement by Interim Sheriff Russ Skinner, the sentencing of former MCSO detention officer Andres Salazar today is a consequence of the diligent efforts and commitment of the MCSO’s Custody Bureau Intelligence Division, as well as investigators and MCAO prosecutors.

In January 2023, a press conference was held by sitting Maricopa Sheriff Paul Penzone where he announced the arrest of Salazar. Additionally, he declared that the implementation of scanning machines at jails would take place in order to identify drugs and other prohibited items.

During the press conference, Penzone revealed that a total of 282 incident reports for narcotics in the jails and 158 incoming inmate postcards were confiscated by the mailroom in 2022. These postcards were found to have tested positive for being soaked in a combination of fentanyl and methamphetamine.

In August 2023, the installation of body scanners was completed and the machines are operated by staff members.

In recent months, MCSO has increased the number of drug detecting dogs. In February, deputies were made aware of an inmate who had drugs on them during the intake process thanks to the dogs.

According to Skinner, the implementation of both body scanners and drug detection dogs has yielded significantly positive outcomes. Skinner acknowledged that while it has not completely eliminated the issue, it has effectively reduced it.