Correction officer indicted for smuggling fentanyl into prison
TRENTON » A senior correction officer at Northern State Prison in Newark has been indicted on charges that he smuggled fentanyl and marijuana to an inmate in the prison in exchange for money.
Roberto Reyes-Jackson, 28, of Irvington, was indicted Thursday by a state grand jury that charged him with fentanyl and marijuana distribution, conspiracy, official misconduct, and bribery in official matters.
Reyes-Jackson was suspended from his position as a senior correction officer as a result of the allegations.
According to prosecutors, between September and December 2016, Reyes-Jackson allegedly smuggled multiple doses of a powder compound laced with fentanyl to an inmate in the prison. The fentanyl was packaged like heroin in single-dose bags that had a “panda face” logo on them. Reyes-Jackson also allegedly smuggled a small quantity of marijuana to the inmate.
The alleged smuggling came to light after prison staff found a bag containing marijuana and two small bags containing fentanyl in the inmate’s cell in December 2016. A subsequent search of the cell revealed additional marijuana and suspected heroin, which lab testing later revealed to be fentanyl.
Further investigation revealed that Reyes-Jackson allegedly accepted bribes in excess of $200 from the inmate’s girlfriend in return for smuggling the drugs into prison. The inmate allegedly distributed the drugs to other inmates, who paid him by having friends or relatives outside the prison wire money to his girlfriend. The inmate and his girlfriend are not identified in the indictment.
Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin: a dose as small as 2 to 3 milligrams can be fatal.
Fentanyl has been responsible for a growing death toll in New Jersey, where there were 417 fentanyl overdose deaths in 2015, and according to preliminary figures, over 800 fentanyl deaths in 2016. Fentanyl is typically mixed with heroin for sale on the street, or is sold in powder compounds or pills disguised as heroin or oxycodone.
Fentanyl is now found in about 30 percent of the heroin specimens tested by the New Jersey State Police forensic labs. Given the tiny size of a lethal dose, drug users are dying because dealers are careless about how much fentanyl they use.