By Rick White: CNJ Managing Editor
A Curry County jail officer arrested Tuesday and charged with smuggling marijuana into the jail said he was blackmailed by inmates.
Clovis’ Carsten Douglas, 23, said an inmate stole his handcuff keys. In exchange for not telling authorities about the incident, the inmate asked the detention officer to bring in a package containing marijuana.
After the first incident, Douglas was asked to bring in three more packages under the threat inmates would tell authorities about the previous drug deliveries, court documents show.
Douglas told authorities he delivered marijuana to inmates on four occasions between Jan. 15 and Saturday, documents show.
Douglas said he didn’t know what was in the packages at first, but suspected it was marijuana. He opened the last package, which contained marijuana, tobacco and other contraband.
Douglas is charged with four counts of bringing contraband into a jail and four counts of conspiracy, according to court documents. Both charges are felonies.
Douglas told the Clovis News Journal on Tuesday that smuggling the drugs was bad judgment on his part.
“At that time I wasn’t thinking straight,” Douglas said. “All I was thinking was get back the keys. I wish I had gone to my supervisors.”
Douglas said he was offered but never accepted money to bring in the drugs. He said he was just trying to get out of the situation.
He said he considered quitting.
Jail officials become suspicious marijuana was being smuggled into the jail when they smelled burnt marijuana in a cell.
Douglas said an inmate he was having problems with offered to shake his hand as a form of reconciliation and quickly embraced the guard, lifting the keys.
Warden Leslie Johnson said detention center officers are warned during training and before they go on the floor not to develop close relationships with inmates because the inmates will take advantage of them.
“It’s very disappointing,” Johnson said. “We work as hard as we can with people to understand. Sometimes it doesn’t work.”
Curry County has about 30 detention officers, Johnson said
She said random “pat downs” are conducted on guards.
Douglas worked for the jail for about a year, according to Johnson.
He was released on a $25,000 bond.
Additional charges and arrests are pending, according to a press release from the Curry County Sheriff’s Office.