Three Alabama corrections officers have been arrested and charged in connection with attempting to smuggle drugs into the Russell County Jail, officials announced Friday.
Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor, alongside Russell County District Attorney Ken Davis, said in a news conference that his office has been investigating drugs possibly smuggled into the jail.
That two-week investigation began with an anonymous tip and culminated in the arrests of Oscar Hicks, 40; Justin Hill, 27; and Brandon Williams, 27, all corrections officers at the jail.
"Today was the conclusion of an investigation that is never good to bring forward," Taylor said. "This is one of those cases where these correction officers are violating not only the trust of this office, but the trust of our community and the trust of the citizens."
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Hill and Williams worked for the Sheriff's Office for around a year. Hicks worked at the department for two years. All three officers have been charged with felony bribery. Hill and Williams have been charged with felony intent to distribute a controlled substance, Taylor said.
"There's a section that says if you're a public service worker and you profit from something that is involving your job that is considered a bribe," he said. "All three of these people have done that. All three of these people have confessed to that."
Taylor said the department's discovery of the three officer's actions is "extremely disappointing."
"This is something that's not going to be tolerated in this community, in this office," he said. "If this don't send a message to the rest of the guys, I don't know what will. ... We're doing our best to send a message to these correction officers and deputies that we have to abide by the law and we have to be held to a higher standard. And if they don't, and we find out about it, you're not going to get fired. You're going to go to jail."
The investigation suggests that the three officers were working together; Taylor said that Hill and Williams attempted to smuggle marijuana while Hicks attempted to smuggle cigarettes.
None of the smuggled drugs are believed to have reached inmates, Taylor said. He declined to specify an amount of either marijuana or cigarettes.
Taylor said the investigation is not connected to the arrest of a Muscogee County Sheriff's deputy who was charged with smuggling drugs into the Muscogee County Jail.
"I hope that this is going to send a clear message. I was sitting at my desk yesterday and I read and spoke to my friends in Columbus at the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office," Taylor said. "They obviously told me about the case they are dealing with."
Bonds for Hill and Williams have been set at $20,000. Hicks' bond has been set at $10,000.
All three will be housed at the Lee County Jail in Alabama.