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One jailed, another sought for attempting to deliver contraband to private prison

WINTON – The search has been called off tonight (Friday) for a second suspect involved in attempting to deliver illegal contraband to inmates here at Rivers Correctional Institution.

That contraband, opened by three Rivers Correctional employees after being found on the grounds of the privately-owned prison, caused the trio to become ill.

“They opened the package in a secured room inside the prison at which time a white, powdery substance came out,” Hayes said. “They complained of numbness to their face and lips.”

That prompted a call to Hertford County EMS to come to the prison to provide medical assistance to the three employees.

“Two of our county EMT’s arrived, and both were also affected through secondary exposure to whatever was in that package,” Hayes reported.

He said all five were taken to Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital for treatment.

“They’re all okay now,” Hayes said.

Meanwhile, to determine what type of substance was in the package, Hayes said he summoned a HazMat team along with the SBI’s Clandestine Lab Response Team. They were on the scene later in the afternoon.

Hayes said his office received a call around 9:30 am today from Rivers Correctional regarding a large package being thrown over the fence. He added that the package contained cell phones, some marijuana, and the unknown substance that caused the medical emergency.

“We were able to track two known suspects into a wooded area near the prison,” Hayes said. “Using K-9 tracking dogs on the ground and a drone overhead, we located the first suspect at around 1:15 p.m. He was about 200 yards from the prison in heavy brush.

“We called off the search for the other at around 4:30 p.m. after the dogs lost the scent along the bank of the Potecasi Creek,” Hayes added. “We will resume that search on Saturday.”

The name of the suspect apprehended today was not immediately made available. He is believed to be from the Sanford, NC area and is being held on a number of charges in the Hertford County Jail under a $500,000 bond.

The Sheriff said his deputies will heavily patrol the area near the prison overnight.

“We’re asking those who live nearby to make sure their homes and vehicles are secured and to call 9-1-1 if they see or hear anything suspicious,” he stressed.

During Friday’s search, Hayes said lawmen from the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office, the Ahoskie Police, the NC Highway Patrol, and officers from Rivers Correctional assisted his deputies.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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