Detention officer one of six charged in drug exchange

Courtesy photo Detention officer Jaime de la Cruz was arrested Wednesday after sheriff’s investigators say he smuggled drugs into the jail in exchange for two hamburgers.

CNJ staff

A Curry County Detention Officer was one of six charged Wednesday after investigators said he took drugs to inmates in exchange for hamburgers.

Three inmates and two women were also charged in connection with the incident.

Detention officer Jaime de la Cruz, 21, is charged with distribution of marijuana and conspiracy to distribute marijuana, according to a press release.

De la Cruz was released on a $10,000 bond according to jail officials.

Inmates David Patrick, 35, Robert Morgan, 34, and Willie Cooper, 34, each face the same charges as de la Cruz. All three are being held on unrelated probation or parole violations.

Patrick’s girlfriend, Percy Herrera, 37, and Morgan’s girlfriend, Monique Pop, 25, are also charged with distribution and conspiracy for providing the drugs to de la Cruz for delivery to the inmates.

Pop was released on a $10,000 appearance bond. Jail officials said as of Wednesday evening, Herrera had not been booked at the facility.

Undersheriff Wesley Waller said sheriff’s investigators received information Feb. 25 that a drug delivery had taken place at the jail. A review of surveillance footage showed a short time before, de la Cruz accepted a package in the jail parking lot from Herrera, who gave him two hamburgers as payment.

Waller said de la Cruz then delivered the package to Cooper inside a pod.

Upon confirmation of the delivery, Waller said detention personnel immediately cleared the pod and investigators searched using a drug detection dog.

Deputies found burned rolling paper ends and an empty bag that had contained tobacco.

The uneaten hamburgers were also taken as evidence, he said.

Further investigation revealed Pop delivered the package — which contained four packages of marijuana and a bag of rolling tobacco — to Herrera at a fast food restaurant and Herrera then delivered it to de la Cruz.

Waller said the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are anticipated.

County records indicate de la Cruz has been working at the jail less than a year.

Contact information for de la Cruz, Pop and Herrera could not be located.