An officer at Gulf Correction Institution was arrested May 26 on charges of bringing the same synthetic marijuana into that prison.
CARRABELLE — After her arrest for smuggling contraband into the Franklin Correctional Institution, a Jacksonville woman booked into the Franklin County Jail apparently managed to complete her mission by distributing a highly potent synthetic marijuana to at least six inmates, all of whom had to be rushed to the hospital Monday morning.
Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith said as of Tuesday afternoon, five of the six men had been treated and released from Weems Memorial Hospital. A sixth man, who was administered CPR by jail staff and later flown by helicopter to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, remains in the intensive care unit there.
Vanda Venssa McElveen, 56 — at the time a visitor — was arrested by Carrabelle police Saturday at Franklin Correctional Institution for smuggling a controlled substance into the state prison and trafficking in methamphetamine, and given a $35,000 bond.
Because McElveen was diabetic, staffers at the county jail decided it made sense to place her with other inmates in the female dorm, rather than in isolation for 72 hours, which is typical for newly arriving inmates.
“They made the call because of her condition,” Smith said.
McElveen was strip-searched before entering the jail, but nothing was found, as the additional drugs reportedly were stuffed into a body cavity.
"They searched her the best they could,” Smith said. “You really need an x-ray machine to see contraband inside the body. We’re exploring those other options.”
The sheriff said another female inmate helped remove the drug, K2, which then was brought to the kitchen at Monday’s breakfast and given to some male inmates. When the inmates smoked a K2 joint in one of the cells, they began to show symptoms of vomiting, hallucinations and convulsions.
“They hadn’t taken very many drags before they started having a reaction to it,” Smith said. “One of the inmates, they had to do CPR on him. That’s how terrible these drugs are.
“This is the first time we’ve had K2 in the jail; this is our first experience with it,” he added. “We’ve done a real good job of keeping it out until yesterday.”
The incident comes about two weeks after Julia Eagerton, an officer at nearby Gulf Correctional Institution, was charged with smuggling in more than 300 grams of K2 into that prison, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.
Smith said after a more intensive search, officers found a K2 cigarette in another female’s bunk, and she is expected to face drug possession charges.
Smith said while the county remains responsible for medical bills racked up by inmates under their care, “We’re going to send these bills to these inmates, including the Lifeflight bill. We’ll see what happens.”