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Drugs and other crimes still a big problem in county jails

UTAH COUNTY – The Utah County Sheriff’s Office is hoping to let people know how bad conditions can be inside county jails all over the state.  They say there have been many assaults, escape attempts, kidnappings and several cases of drugs on the inside in 2019.

One case highlighted by investigators is that of Ericc Gayge Bobo of Santaquin.

(Credit: Utah County Jail)

In early November, a deputy got information that led him to believe Bobo was dealing drugs from inside the jail walls.  When he was searched, deputies reportedly found just over half a gram of heroin.  Utah County Sheriff’s Sergeant Spencer Cannon says that small amount is much bigger than many people would expect.

“You take half a gram of heroin, you can divide that into ten separate doses,” Cannon says.

Bobo reportedly didn’t have any money inside his commissary account, so they believe he was selling the drugs to get things from other inmates.  They’re still trying to determine how the heroin was smuggled into the jail.

“He was using it to trade for material goods and that creates a real security problem,” Cannon says.

Supplying contraband can curry favor from the other inmates, but Cannon says he has seen several cases where it can also place a target on the supplier’s back.

He adds, “What might have a certain value on the street… in the jail, suddenly becomes more valuable, but, also, it becomes more dangerous.”

Bobo was charged with drug distribution and possession in jail, along with possession of drug paraphernalia.  His was just one of 17 drug cases investigated inside the jail in 2019.  There were also 21 assaults, three cases of criminal mischief, two cases of sexual offenses, four escape attempts and one kidnapping.  In all, there were 48 cases which led to 86 different charges.

Cannon says, “On a jail level, it’s mild.  You get up to the prison, and things take on a whole different level of seriousness.”