Authorities in Houston have brought charges against a retired attorney after he allegedly supplied drug-laced papers that caused the deaths of at least two Harris County Jail inmates. Per FOX 26 Houston, retired criminal defense attorney Ronald Lewis was allegedly supplying the drug-laced papers to inmates at a fee.
The 77-year-old suspect was ultimately arrested on Friday, and authorities said he had 11 sheets of paper on him at the time. Authorities are now testing the paper to determine whether it contains narcotics.
“In July, our Detentions Criminal Investigation and Security Division developed evidence that an attorney was possibly supplying sheets of paper laced with ecstasy and synthetic marijuana to people in jail during in-person visits,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said during a news conference.
The substances Lewis smuggled into the jail caused the deaths of at least two inmates while multiple inmates also suffered adverse side effects, court documents stated. The substance in question was said to be methoxy dimethyl oxobutane.
“The laced sheets of mail were often disguised as legal mail or other forms of legal documents. Inmates would pay the attorneys $200 to $500 to bring in the laced papers,” HCSO Lt. J Wheeler said.
“Mr. Lewis visited 14 inmates from July 2023 until November 2023. During the investigation, approximately 154 sheets of paper were believed to be laced with narcotics and confiscated,” Wheeler added.
Kimberly Smith, who is a prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, also said they could not establish the relationship Lewis had with the inmates, FOX 26 Houston reported.
“As of record, these are not his clients. We do not know the relationship between this defendant, this attorney, these clients. But as of record, they are not his clients,” Smith said.
Lewis has since been charged with two counts of bringing a prohibited substance into a correctional facility. He was, however, released on Saturday after posting a $7,500 bond. His bond condition bars him from visiting any inmate in jail during his trial.
Lewis’ arrest comes after Gonzalez reportedly set up a task force to clamp down on crime and harmful narcotics inside the jail after criticism over the rising number of jail deaths. An HCSO spokesperson also said 27 inmates died in 2022 while 19 have passed away this year. Gonzalez also said they have since implemented tighter security measures.
“If attorneys are coming on site, we’ve made a copy machine available for them. They can make copies. They can handle it. We’ve given them envelopes. They can secure it and then take it up to the floors. What we’ve asked them to do is just process it with paper that we provide,” HCSO Asst. Chief P. Bosquez said.