4 women accused of smuggling drugs into Fla. jail
Deputies uncovered one case involving two women, which led them to discover other instances
By Jamal Thalji
Tampa Bay Times
LARGO, Fla. — Four women are accused of smuggling drugs into the Pinellas County jail in recent weeks.
The first case was discovered on April 17, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the jail at 14400 49th St. N. That’s when jail deputies said they discovered a letter sent to inmate Danielle Tufano contained ten strips of Suboxone, an opiate used to treat addiction.
Tufano, 31, of Tampa, was arrested on Jan. 24 on a misdemeanor charge of battery and a Hillsborough County warrant on a charge of giving false information to a law enforcement officer. Detectives determined that Tufano later had Nina Gomez mail her the Suboxone, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Gomez, 36, was arrested Wednesday on charges of possession of a controlled substance and introduction/possession of contraband into a detention facility. She was freed from the Pinellas jail later that day after posting $7,000 bail.
Tufao also faces a charge of introduction/possession of contraband into a detention facility. She was freed Wednesday after posting $10,000 bail.
That investigation led detectives to discover more drugs inside the jail, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Kristi Sweeney, 49, of Odessa, was arrested May 8 on charges of possession of methamphetamine, possession of crack cocaine and false verification of ownership. Then on May 12, deputies said they conducted a medical search and discovered she had been hiding 17 small bags of meth containing a total of 14 grams, or half an ounce of the drug. Deputies believe the drug was hidden in her body when she was booked into the jail.
She faces additional charges of trafficking in methamphetamine, introduction/possession of contraband into a detention facility and possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. She was being held Wednesday in the jail in lieu of $46,650 bail.
Deputies said they also learned that 30-year-old inmate Stephanie Hansbury of Clearwater was hiding a gram of methamphetamine insider her clothes. Hansbury, who was arrested Feb. 1 on multiple drug charges, also faces a charge of possession of methamphetamine.
Deputies did not say how she acquired the drug while inside the jail. She was released Tuesday on her own recognizance, according to jail records.
©2020 the Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.)