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Texas jail implements metal detectors to thwart contraband

New security measures include making all staff go through metal detectors that also show if someone has a cellphone


Bexar County Deputy Saundra Martinez goes through a metal detector as Deputy Francisco Gonzalez prepares to wand her at the entrance to the secure area of the Bexar County Jail.

Image Jerry Lara/San Antonio Express-News

By Michelle Mondo
My San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — A $250 payoff, box of sugar substitute and a Bible all came into play when a Bexar County Jail inmate got a cellphone smuggled into the facility with the help of his brother, officials said Thursday.

The plan — allegedly cooked up by inmate Roland Ponce, 24, and brother Roy Ponce, 22, and executed with the help of a delivery man — was successful until officials got a tip about the contraband, investigators said.

Officials arrested Roy Ponce and Aramark employee Stephen Kpehe, 20, on Wednesday evening. They and Roland Ponce were charged with bringing a prohibited substance into a correctional facility, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Roland Ponce is awaiting transfer to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to start a seven-year sentence for a drug conviction, officials said.

Sheriff Susan Pamerleau spoke about the case Thursday morning as an example of why new, tighter security measures implemented at the jail earlier this week were needed.

“Let me be clear,” Pamerleau said. “Our security measures have met state standards, but we’re increasing those standards to be more in line with the type of jail we expect to be, and these new standards are in line with national standards.”

Jail administrator Deputy Chief Raul Banasco said new security measures include making all staff — including command — go through metal detectors that also show if someone has a cellphone. He said they made this possible by making sure there is only one entrance and exit used by staff, which is different than the public entrance.

Full story: Jail security changes to address contraband smuggling