Suboxone lies within Bible shipped to inmate

COs found the drug, which is used to manage opioid withdrawal, after a tip from an informant

By Donald W. Meyers
Yakima Herald-Republic, Wash.

YAKIMA, Wash. — A 53-year-old Sunnyside woman accused of smuggling drugs into the Yakima County jail will spend two weeks there.

Michele Kristin Aguirre pleaded guilty Thursday to a reduced charge of maintaining a vehicle for drug purposes, which she said was used for keeping or selling drugs, according to sentencing documents.

Aguirre was initially charged in April with two counts of delivering a controlled substance after an investigation into drugs being smuggled into the jail and a state prison. Those charges were dropped under the terms of the plea agreement, which also calls for her to be in community custody for up to 12 months.

The case against Aguirre started when an informant told Yakima County sheriff's detectives that a jail inmate was receiving drugs and selling them to other inmates at the North Front Street facility, according to court documents.

Corrections officers found suboxone, a drug typically used to manage opioid withdrawal but has potential for abuse, hidden in the cover of a Bible mailed to an inmate, court documents said. The Bible had been sent in Amazon packaging with a return address for an Amazon warehouse, court documents said, but had actually been sent from a Sunnyside shipping service.

When that inmate was transferred to the Airway Heights Corrections Center, prison staff intercepted parcels addressed to him with suboxone inside.

Aguirre was identified as a suspect based on jail phone recordings and other evidence, court documents said.

Agents from the Law Enforcement Against Drugs task force took over the investigation, and the shipping service's owner told them that Aguirre had sent the package with the Bible, along with six other packages for the jail that were in recycled Amazon packaging, court documents said, and listed a warehouse as the return address.

Jail rules bar inmates from receiving books, newspapers or magazines unless the items are sent directly from the publisher or from a seller such as Amazon.

Agents intercepted two packages at the Sunnyside store that contained suboxone, and Aguirre was arrested at her home the next day, court documents said.

Aguirre was free on pretrial release during the course of her court proceedings.


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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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