The Alabama Department of Corrections’ (ADOC) Law Enforcement Services Division (LESD) is enforcing the Department’s zero-tolerance contraband policy, making numerous arrests of individuals attempting to introduce illegal contraband into correctional facilities.

Since March 18, when the ADOC suspended visitation and all non-emergent outside entry into ADOC’s facilities in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the LESD has continued its important work to eliminate the presence of illegal contraband and as a result has made numerous arrests of free-world citizens attempting to introduce drugs, cell phones, and weapons into ADOC’s facilities.

“While the entire ADOC — from executive leadership to our security staff — has been working diligently to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our facilities, the LESD also has been hard at work eradicating contraband including cell phones, which we know are the nexus of most coordinated criminal activity in our facilities,” said LESD Chief Law Enforcement Officer Arnaldo Mercado. “Unfortunately, we’ve actually seen an increase in attempted illegal activity related to contraband introduction during the pandemic. Criminals have found new and, in some cases, sophisticated means by which to exploit the porous nature of our dilapidated, aging facilities.”

Throughout the time period of March 18 — June 18, 2020, the ADOC LESD:

Arrested 22 free-world and five staff members for attempting to introduce illegal contraband into facilities;

Confiscated more than 150 electronics and more than 100 weapons; and

Worked with the ADOC’s K-9 Bureau to conduct 49 institutional searches that eliminated 7,166 grams of confiscated drugs from our facilities.

Free-world arrests have been made at the following ADOC facilities:

» Bibb Correctional Facility in Brent (2)

» Donaldson Correction Facility in Bessemer (7)

» Elmore Correctional Facility in Elmore (3)

» Fountain Correctional Facility in Atmore (3)

» North Alabama Community Work Center (1)

» St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville (4)

» Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton (2)

“Ill-intentioned inmates use cell phones to coordinate duplicitous schemes with free-world individuals who, in light of suspended visitation, often will go to extreme lengths to introduce contraband — including sneaking through the woods at night to try to throw illegal items over our fences undetected,” added Mercado. “For anyone who is complicit in these schemes, know this — we are onto you, you will eventually be caught, and you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Thus far in 2020, law enforcement agents from ADOC’s LESD have initiated 491 investigations, closed 567 investigations, conducted 96 institutional searches, and arrested 34 free-world individuals and eight ADOC staff members.

The ADOC has a zero-tolerance policy concerning contraband and continues to evaluate effective tactics to mitigate and eliminate its presence in facilities, including routine, announced searches of facilities, inmates, and ADOC staff. Additionally, ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn is working alongside other state corrections directors and the Correctional Leaders Association to address the issue of illegally obtained cell phones in correctional facilities, a challenge that persists across the country at both state and federal institutions.

The public should submit all information that may lead to the arrest of anyone attempting to introduce illegal contraband into state prisons to the ADOC Law Enforcement Services Division by calling 1-855-WE R ADOC (937-2362) or by visiting the ADOC website at

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