SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — Surveillance video reviewed after a jailhouse smuggling operation was broken up reveals the alleged crime took place in broad daylight but no one inside or outside the facility noticed for days.
A cord made up of several jail-issued headphone cables was strung outside of a hole in a cell window and found tied to a tree on busy Ringling Boulevard in front of the Sarasota County Jail.
According to an affidavit obtained by 8 On Your Side, one suspect brought several items — including a baggie of crack cocaine — into his cell from the street during a four-day period in October.
John Hicks, 37, was seen on video “fishing out of the window pulling up items” from Noon to 2 on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 3 to 3:20 the next afternoon and from 2 to 2:45 on the following Monday.
That cord was attached to a jail broom handle that was used to pull the contraband into his E-block cell.
Hicks was also seen on video “chipping away at the window” on multiple days starting on Oct. 6, the affidavit stated.
Someone on the outside is suspected of putting the cell phones, chargers, vape pen and crack cocaine in bags that were tied to the other end of the cord.
The baggie of crack included “six rocks” when it was found. According to sheriff’s office spokesman Evan Keats, the inmates in the cell block were drug tested after the operation was stopped and did not show any signs of impairment.
Keats said he could not elaborate on any alleged civilian involvement in the scheme.
“That is part of an ongoing criminal investigation, of which I am unable to comment further on at this time,” Keats said.
Keats was asked if the surveillance video is monitored live, while it is being recorded. He said he would check with the facility administration about that inquiry.
A total of six inmates are in trouble.
Antonio Blan,19, James Tolbert, 23, Juan Salazar-Diaz, 26, and LaDarius Richardson, 26, were charged with facility infractions and face internal sanctions, according to Keats.
Hicks’ cellmate Michael Bodiker, 42, is charged criminally with smuggling contraband.
Hicks, who investigators said began to cry after he was caught, is charged with eleven criminal counts tied to the smuggling caper.