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Prison officers stamp out contraband

Published date: Wednesday 12 June 2019

[PDF version of this media release]

Corrective Services NSW officers are increasingly finding strips of prescription drug buprenorphine carefully hidden inside greetings cards delivered to prison inmates.

Officers at Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre became suspicious last month after noticing the spine of a ‘Thinking of You’ card addressed to an inmate was slightly detached.

Governor Paula Quarrie said intelligence officers located 12 buprenorphine strips, weighing 0.6g, after pulling away the inner paper from the cardboard backing.

“Someone was thinking of this inmate in completely the wrong way,” Ms Quarrie said.

“My staff did a great job to locate these drugs before they could get into the wrong hands.”

There were about 100 incidents last year of contraband found in letters, cards, parcels or other mail sent to inmates. Buprenorphine strips were the most common item of contraband seized.

‘Bupe’ is a prescription heroin-replacement and can be worth about $200 per strip in a maximum-security centre.

Commissioner Peter Severin praised staff for their continued vigilance and commitment to stamping contraband out of our prisons.

“It’s important that inmates stay in touch with families and friends through letters but this kind of behaviour jeopardises their chances of rehabilitation,” Mr Severin said.

Other recent contraband finds in inmate mail include:

  • Five bupe strips secreted behind a tracking sticker on an Express Post envelope sentto an inmate at Long Bay Correctional Complex;
  • Five bupe strips were located in a homemade greeting card sent to an inmate atLithgow Correctional Centre;
  • Twelve bupe stripes were located in the side seams of an Express Post envelopesent to an inmate at Dillwynia Correctional Centre; and
  • Two bupe strips were located in an envelope sent to an inmate at DillwyniaCorrectional Centre.

The sender’s name and return address are fake in the majority of cases. In some instances, the contents of letters are handed to NSW Police for investigation.