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Wash. county jail deputies uncover contraband smuggling plot

A man was arrested after trying to smuggle tobacco to inmates inside the Whatcom County Jail

By David Rasbach
The Bellingham Herald

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — A man was arrested Friday night after corrections deputies reportedly uncovered a plot to smuggle tobacco to inmates inside the Whatcom County Jail.

Steven Lee Dodson, 42, was booked into the jail Jan. 15 on suspicion of third-degree introducing contraband and driving with a suspended license, and jail records show he is being held in lieu of $5,000 bail.

“This case highlights the ongoing vigilance and efforts our corrections staff perform to limit the introduction of contraband into the jail and work center to maintain the safety and security of inmates and employees,” a Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office release read.

Deputies first learned about the contraband smuggling plot on Thursday, Jan. 14, according to the release, and on Friday monitored nine phone calls made from 32-year-old inmate Cody Lee Wilson between 7:45 and 9:30 p.m. to an unknown person outside the jail.

During the calls, details about when and where the accomplice would meet Wilson’s connection and details about how it would be smuggled into the jail were discussed, according to the release.

At approximately 8:45 p.m. and while some of the calls were still being placed, corrections deputies spotted a vehicle matching the description of the one talked about in the phone calls park on Central Street near the Bellingham Public Library, according to the release. An unknown man reportedly then walked to the area between the jail and courthouse and looked around before he returned to the car and left northbound on Grand Avenue.

Deputies stopped the car and identified the driver as Dodson, who admitted to driving with a suspended license and was detained, the release states.

On the front seat of the car, deputies saw what the release described as a large straw with a loop made from a rope attached to it. Dodson reportedly later admitted that the straw was full of tobacco and was intended to be brought to inmates in the jail’s outdoor recreation area.

Correction deputies found a “fishing line,” made of a string with a pencil attached to the end as a weight, in the outdoor recreation area, according to the release.

Dodson also reportedly showed the call history on his cell phone and it was consistent with the calls made by Wilson from the jail.

Wilson was booked Sept. 11 into jail by the Bellingham Police Department on suspicion of forgery, identity theft, illegal possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm and is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail. Whatcom County Superior Court records show his jury trial is scheduled to begin March 1.


(c)2021 The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.)