A Texas defense attorney has been arrested and accused of being a “major supplier” of dangerous narcotics in jail by sneaking inmates papers laced with drugs, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said.
Ronald Henry Lewis, 77, was charged with two felony counts of bringing a prohibited substance into a correctional facility, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez announced at a news conference Monday.
Gonzalez said the sheriff’s office created the jail Criminal Investigations and Security Division in March to stop the flow of drugs into the jail because its medical clinic “was seeing more and more people requiring emergency treatment for what seemed like emergency overdoses.”
Lt. Jay Wheeler said that in June, following two inmate deaths that may have been overdose-related, a probe was launched into narcotics’ being smuggled into the jail in the form of paper “that was sprayed or dipped with a chemical compound.”
One month later, the unit received information that an attorney was taking illegal narcotics to several inmates in the jail.
Investigators determined that an attorney was visiting inmates and giving them sheets of paper, often disguised as legal mail or legal documents, that were laced with narcotics such as ecstasy and synthetic marijuana. In return, inmates would pay $250 to $500 for the papers, Gonzalez and Wheeler said.
Tips from within the jail led investigators to identify Lewis, and a warrant was issued Nov. 9.
“When Mr. Lewis visited the jail last Friday, Nov. 17, our team was ready. They arrested Mr. Lewis and found him carrying multiple sheets of paper contaminated with a substance now being tested to confirm whether it’s indeed an illegal narcotic,” Gonzalez said.
At the time of his arrest, Lewis was found with 11 sheets of paper suspected of being laced with drugs, Wheeler said.
From July to November, Lewis visited a total of 14 inmates, and in total 154 sheets of paper laced with narcotics were confiscated from the jail, Wheeler said.
Wheeler said investigators are working with the Texas Rangers to see whether any narcotics Lewis introduced to the jail led to the death of an inmate.
Officials said Monday that it is believed other attorneys are involved in narcotics’ surfacing at the jail and that the investigation continues.
According to the State Bar of Texas, Lewis has been a licensed attorney since 1982.
He has been released from jail after he posted $15,000 bond.
An attorney for Lewis, Tyrone Moncriffe, said Tuesday that “we are doing a thorough investigation of the facts in this case” and that any comments on the matter will come when it is complete.