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Texas Jail Guards Smuggle Contraband in Tacos, Ramen Noodles

When Bexar County jail guard Alfred Casas, 32, agreed to bring some tacos to prisoner Jacob Keller in violation of jail rules, he probably didn’t think much of it. That changed when the tacos contained hacksaw blades intended for use in an escape attempt.

“It was one taco and I opened it and there was nothing in it,” Casas said during a tearful interview with detectives. “I know it sounds stupid. I’m stupid for bringing those tacos. But it was a regular taco. I didn’t know [about the hacksaw blade].”

The blades were found during a cell search that also uncovered bed sheets made into ropes, jail uniforms dyed to look like street clothes, and a cut window bar.

Casas was charged with accepting bribes and providing an implement for escape for smuggling the tacos, which he had picked up from Keller’s girlfriend, Tiffany Contreras, in exchange for bottles of Xanax. Contreras testified against Casas at trial. “I said here’s the food. The bottom three have the blades and the two tacos on top don’t have them,” she told the jury. Contreras and Keller were not charged.

Prosecutors claimed that Casas had a Xanax addiction which led him to agree to smuggle the hacksaw blade-laden tacos. He was found guilty on July 26, 2011 and sentenced to two years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

That was the third time a Bexar County jail guard was busted for smuggling contraband in food items. Another guard, William Douglas Hemphill, was sentenced to five years deferred adjudication on July 25, 2011 for smuggling a cell phone into the jail in a box of Ramen noodles, while in May 2011 former guard Robert Falcon received a six-year sentence for smuggling barbacoa tacos filled with heroin.

When sentencing Hemphill, State District Judge Sid Harle suggested that the jail re-think its policy of allowing jailers to bring in their own food. “We are looking at different options, but it has been difficult,” stated deputy chief Roger Dovalina, who noted that guards do not get lunch breaks and thus many bring their meals with them.

Apparently the jail has not considered searching the guards when they arrive for work, including X-raying their lunch boxes.


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