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Texas lawyer slipped papers laced with drugs to inmates, was ‘major supplier’ to jail, officials say


Texas lawyer slipped papers laced with drugs to inmates, was ‘major supplier’ to jail, officials say

A Texas defense attorney has been arrested and accused of being a “major supplier” of dangerous narcotics in jail by sneaking inmates papers laced with drugs, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said.

Ronald Henry Lewis, 77, was charged with two felony counts of bringing a prohibited substance into a correctional facility, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez announced in a news conference Monday.

Gonzalez said that the sheriff’s office created the jail Criminal Investigations and Security division in March to stop the flow of drugs into the jail after its medical clinic “was seeing more and more people requiring emergency treatment for what seemed like emergency overdoses.”

In June, following two inmate deaths that were possibly overdose-related, a probe was launched regarding narcotics being smuggled into the jail in the form of paper “that was sprayed or dipped with a chemical compound,” Lt. Jay Wheeler said.

One month later, the unit received information that an attorney was bringing illegal narcotics to several inmates in the jail. 

Investigators determined that an attorney was visiting inmates and giving them sheets of paper, often disguised as legal mail or legal documents, that were laced with narcotics such as ecstasy and synthetic marijuana. In return, inmates would pay $250 to $500 for the papers, Gonzalez and Wheeler said.

Tips from within the jail led investigators to identify Lewis and a warrant was issued on Nov. 9.

“When Mr. Lewis visited the jail last Friday, Nov. 17, our team was ready. They arrested Mr. Lewis and found him carrying multiple sheets of paper contaminated with a substance now being tested to confirm whether it’s indeed an illegal narcotic,” Gonzalez said.

At the time of his arrest, Lewis was found with 11 sheets of paper suspected to be laced with drugs, Wheeler said.

From July to November this year Lewis visited a total of 14 inmates and in total 154 sheets of paper laced with narcotics were confiscated from the jail, Wheeler said.

Wheeler said investigators are working with Texas Rangers to see if any narcotics Lewis introduced to the jail led to the death of an inmate. 

Officials said Monday that it is believed other attorneys are involved in narcotics surfacing at the jail and the investigation is ongoing. 

According to the State Bar of Texas, Lewis has been a licensed attorney since 1982. 

He has since been released from jail after posting $15,000 bond. NBC News has reached out to his attorney for comment.

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