Jail officer arrested in drug smuggling - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Jail officer arrested in drug smuggling

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Posted: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 3:38 am | Updated: 6:28 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is in the middle of an investigation surrounding a detention officer arrested for delivering drugs to an inmate at the Fourth Avenue Jail.

Officer Michele Samaniego, 27, of Glendale, was caught taking a needle and syringe along with substances believed to be marijuana and methamphetamine to the jail, authorities said.

Through information gathered by the sheriff’s intelligence unit, deputies learned that the six-year employee was bringing drugs to work, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.

When Samaniego arrived at work Monday morning, drug-sniffing dogs indicated that she had narcotics in her purse, Arpaio said.

She was booked on suspicion of promoting prison contraband, possession of dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Arpaio expressed his disappointment in the officer’s actions.

“Our officers have a tough job in our jail system,” he said. “But it’s always sad when you find someone in law enforcement that violates trust.”

The sheriff’s office is working to determine how long she had been taking drugs to the jail as well as if any other employees or inmates were involved, Arpaio said.

Samaniego isn’t talking to authorities and asked for a lawyer immediately after arrest, Arpaio said. He said she had at least 200 phone conversations with the inmate.

On Monday, the sheriff’s office served a search warrant at the Glendale home where she lived with a roommate, who has also been arrested on related drug conspiracy charges.

Arpaio said her roommate, whom he wouldn’t identify, might also have a connection to an inmate at the jail.

“This is just the beginning of our investigation,” he said. “We do run a jail and I don’t like drugs coming into jail.”

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