WARREN, Maine — A 52-year-old Orono woman and two Maine State Prison inmates — one of them her son — have been charged with attempting to smuggle the narcotic suboxone into the correctional facility.
The investigation continues and as many as 10 more people could be charged, according to David Wilson, a criminal investigator for the Maine Department of Corrections.
Karen Lane of Orono was arrested at her home on Jan. 31 and charged with Class B unlawful trafficking of scheduled drugs in connection with the case.
In the week after Lane’s arrest, two inmates also were charged with conspiracy to traffic in scheduled drugs. Christopher Hyson, 28, of the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, who is Lane’s son, and Adam Shawley, 27, of the Maine State Prison in Warren were both charged with the felony violations.
The investigation began in December, Wilson said, when monitored telephone conversations between a prisoner and a person in the community revealed efforts to get drugs inside the prison.
According to Wilson, Lane had been selling her prescription suboxone since early December to inmates by providing the drugs to acquaintances of the inmates with the intent that the drugs would be smuggled into the prison system.
With the assistance of U.S. Postal Investigator Jeffrey Taylor, suboxone in two separate packages sent through the U.S. mail system targeted for the Maine State Prison in Warren were seized, according to corrections officials.
The Corrections Department used its K-9 team to detect the presence of drugs in the packages. Officials estimated the seized drugs were worth almost $5,000 within the prison system. The suboxone was in film form, which are thin strips of the medication that dissolve in the mouth.
Once the drugs were detected, Lane was arrested at her home by Wilson and Taylor with assistance from agents with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. Within a week the two inmates also were charged.
“This is a significant amount of illegal drugs that did not make its way into the prison system,” said Gary LaPlante, director of Security for the Maine Department of Corrections.
Wilson said other people also are involved in selling their legally obtained suboxone prescriptions to inmates. He said additional suspects — as many as 10 more inmates and individuals from the community — have been identified and could be charged.
“The deeper we get into this case the more we’re realizing the problem is larger than we first anticipated. Unfortunately there is money to be made through the trafficking of drugs in prison as well as in the community,” he said.
There are two dogs at the Maine State Prison that are trained to sniff out suboxone and oxycodone, according to LaPlante. Two more dogs are being trained, he said.
On Thursday, the two trained dogs, Tyson and Gunner that are both Belgian Malinois showed off their ability to detect the suboxone during a news conference at the prison. Tyson’s handler is Corrections Officer Joe Salisbury and Gunner’s handler is Corrections Officer Kyle Sylvester.