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Top 10 bizarre contraband stories of 2023

From scissors to cellphones, and everything in between, there’s never a dull moment in the world of contraband


Two Mobile residents are charged with trying to smuggle contraband into Alabama prison.

Carol Robinson/TNS

By Corrections1 Staff

In 2023, inmates continued to go to extraordinary measures to obtain contraband they believed they needed while incarcerated.

Take a moment to review our compilation of the most peculiar contraband smuggling incidents of 2023.

1. Video: Contraband search during statewide Texas prison lockdown

Screenshot 2023-12-14 121911.png

Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials found 19 cell phones, 6 chargers and other items, some of which were concealed inside a cell door at the Clements Unit in Amarillo during a lockdown in September.

Hiding cell phones and chargers inside a cell door? Talk about innovation in storage solutions. Who knew prison could be so...connected?

2. Ind. jail deputies find scissors inside arrested man during body scan


La Porte County Sheriff’s Office

La Porte County Sheriff’s Office officials found a pair of scissors inside of a man who was in the process of intake at the jail.

Yes, folks, he had a pair of scissors inside him. Truly a cut above the rest in the world of smuggling attempts.

3. Photos: VADOC seizes extensive amounts of drugs, contraband in major shakedown

VADOC announces results of large drug/contraband shakedown at Greensville Correctional Center

Suspected drugs, improvised weapons and contraband including cell phones were recovered by the VA DOC.


The Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) recovered suspected drugs, makeshift weapons and contraband like cellphones at the Greensville Correctional Center.

Seems like VADOC just upped their game in the high-stakes world of “Finders Keepers: Contraband Edition.”

4. Suspects charged after trying to smuggle night-vision devices, bolt cutters, knives into Ala. prison


Two Mobile residents are charged with trying to smuggle contraband into Alabama prison.

Carol Robinson/TNS

The recovered contraband included 17 cell phones, a large hunting knife, a used syringe, phone chargers and more.

It’s like a yard sale, but for all the things inmates are not supposed to have.

5. Officers intercept meth, large bags of tobacco, other contraband intended for Texas prison

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Anderson County Sheriff’s Office

Anderson County Sheriff’s Office’s deputies seized one pound ten ounces of methamphetamine, 30 cellular telephones, 44 large bags of tobacco and three small bags of marijuana intended for delivery to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison unit.

Looks like deputies intercepted quite the party package.

6. Fla. jail deputy arrested for selling pot brownies to inmates

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Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office

A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office detention deputy was arrested for bringing pot-laced food into the county jail and selling it to inmates, Sheriff Chad Chronister said.

Not quite what we would have in mind for “baked goods.”

7. From fake food deliveries to drones: How drugs get into L.A. County’s juvenile halls


Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Drug drop-offs at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall are so blatant that arrows were spray painted on the fences to indicate where to throw the substances.

It’s like a fast-food drive-thru but for illicit substances.

8. Suspects arrested in contraband scheme for drug-soaked mail sent to Colo. jail

Weld County Jail

Weld County Sheriff’s Office

A Weld County Jail official said inmates in state jails consume paper to get high, often found laced with synthetic cannabinoids or fentanyl.

It seems “paperback writer” has a whole new meaning in these jails.

9. Idaho jail’s body scanner detects contraband on first day


Tek84, Inc.

Deputies found tobacco, meth, fentanyl and a syringe on an inmate returning from furlough.

If your department is questioning whether or not to get a body scanner, this might be a sign.

10. K-9 locates Ala. contraband suspect

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Alabama Department of Corrections via MCT

After a CO spotted the trespasser, a tracking K-9 led authorities on a 3-mile pursuit of the suspect. The backpack contained 12 packages wrapped in black tape.

Sounds like someone was watching too many action movies.

In all seriousness, contraband poses a significant security threat in prisons, jails and detention centers. To assist you in combating this pervasive issue, here are some insightful articles crafted by experts on the subject: