Inmates at a New Jersey jail received contraband drugs hidden in paste used to color pages of children's coloring books that they ate or licked to get high, investigators say.
Five people -- three inmates and two women who allegedly shipped the coloring books -- face charges in the scheme, revealed this week by the sheriff in Cape May County after a two-month investigation.
A paste containing Suboxone, which is a drug used to ease withdrawal for addicts coming off opiates, was used to color pages with pictures of Snow White, Cinderella and other children's characters, according to Kourtney Perry, an officer in the Department of Investigations and Internal Affairs.
Two pages have "To Daddy" scrawled at the top.
She said an officer at the jail was first tipped off to the alleged operation in early February by an inmate. "He said, 'They're putting it on coloring books and it's orange in color,'" she said today.
Officers began watching arriving inmate mail and soon noticed the orange-colored pages. "Inmates do receive [children's drawings] on a daily basis. We would have thought that it was a normal art project" if it weren't for the inmate tip, Perry said.
"I was shocked. How can they use a kid and involve them in this?" she said.
Inmates Zachary Hirsch and Charles Markham and former inmate Paul Scipione, who was transferred to a state prison earlier this month on drug-distribution charges, were each charged with conspiracy and attempt to commit a crime.
Debbie Longo of West Wildwood, N.J., who is Markham's mother, was charged with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance and is out on bail, Perry said, while Katelyn Mosebach of Trevoise, Pa., is expected to turn herself in shortly to face the same charge.
Markham told Longo to send the drug-laced pages in for the benefit of Scipione, who then gave Markham extra commissary access, Perry said. She said that Mosebach sent the pages to Hirsch, her boyfriend, for his own use.
At a news conference Monday announcing the arrests, Cape May County Sheriff Gary Schaffer said, "In my 38 years of law enforcement, I've never seen anything like this."