Sheriff: Maricopa County detention officer tried to smuggle fentanyl, meth into jail

Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2023 - 5:10pm

A Maricopa County detention officer was arrested Wednesday after officials say he tried to smuggle about 100 meth and fentanyl pills into county lockup.

Sheriff Paul Penzone said he believed Officer Andres Salazar was caught on his first attempt, but he conceded there is a drug problem in county jails. Last year, nearly 200 inmates overdosed; 17 of them died.

"The majority of the employees in this organization represent the highest standard in law enforcement, great people doing a very difficult job," Penzone said. "And the idea that one person would act in this manner and taint the rest of them is unforgivable. But I’m also not so naïve as to think it’s the first time it’s ever happened and the last time it’ll ever happen."

Penzone said his office plans to install body-scanning equipment to prevent anyone, including employees, from bringing drugs or other contraband into jail. In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, the sheriff said he expected jail staff to bristle at being subjected to body scans but that their safety, and that of inmates, is paramount.

Salazar joined the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in 2019. 

Law Enforcement