Trio charged after drugs stashed next to trash bin found part of jail smuggling ring, narcotics agents say

Published 3:46 pm Friday, March 25, 2022

A drug-smuggling ring that included inmates at a county jail in Mississippi has been busted, authorities said.

Ronnie Earhart, 41, of Bayside Park, Mississippi, and Hancock County jail inmate Mindi Saucier were arrested on charges of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute illegal drugs, Sheriff Ricky Adam said in a news release, The Sun Herald reported. Another inmate, Valerie Black, also faces a conspiracy charge, he said.

Earlier this month, narcotics agents received information indicating that inmates were getting drugs while in the general public on work details, then distributing them throughout the jail. On March 16, agents staked out a work detail in Bay St. Louis and saw Earhart drive into the parking lot and drop off a package near a trash bin before leaving. Saucier, an inmate on the work detail, retrieved the package and was confronted by agents.

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Adam’s office said the package contained crystal meth known as “ice” and Subutex, a drug used to treat opioid addiction. Further investigation revealed Black’s involvement in the smuggling operation, the news release said.

More arrests are expected.

“We are vigilant with the security of our detention facility and the responsibility rests not only with our dedicated corrections staff, but with every sworn deputy in our agency,” Adam said. “We will continue to investigate this case and others like it to ensure those who threaten the security of our facility are held accountable.”

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division is comprised of agents from the sheriff’s office and the Bay Saint Louis and Waveland police departments.