CLEARWATER - A Trinity woman was arrested Aug. 19 after she concealed suboxone strips behind stamps on envelopes and mailed them to two inmates at the Pinellas County.
The inmates in turn distributed and sold the controlled substance to other Pinellas County Jail inmates. Since the investigation began on Aug. 1, 2013, deputies intercepted a total of 11 pieces of mail containing the opiate.
Kaitlyn Pergola, 29, was charged with two counts of introducing/possession of contraband into a county detention facility. Bond was set at $10,000. She also is being held without bond on charges of violation of probation on doctor shopping charges.
Pergola’s boyfriend, Michael David Gavin, 29, was arrested for introduction/possession of contraband in a county detention facility. He was transferred to Jefferson County Jail on Aug. 1 on burglary and grand theft charges.
Gavin’s cellmate, Jermonte Russell Rushing, 30, of St. Petersburg also was arrested for introduction/possession of contraband into a county detention facility. He was last booked into the Pinellas County Jail on March 7 on a charge of carjacking without a weapon. Bond was set at $50,000.
According to the sheriff’s report, on Aug. 1, Gavin was being prepared for transport and transfer to the Jefferson County Jail. Investigators said detention deputies began to grow suspicious when Gavin began to ask every deputy and jail employee he saw or passed to help him get his mail.
Mailroom clerks were asked to examine Gavin’s mail more closely. Four pieces of stamped mail were initially found addressed to Gavin and closer examination of the pieces revealed small square pieces of orange paper concealed behind each of the stamps.
The contents of the envelopes were provided to the inmate for his transport to Jefferson County; and detectives retained the envelope and began their investigation to identify the substance behind the stamps.
Through their subsequent investigation, detectives discovered additional pieces of mail addressed to Gavin; as well as other pieces of mail addressed to Rushing, which had the same type of orange paper concealed behind the stamps and appeared to have similar handwriting to the letters addressed to Gavin.
Research and testing of the “orange paper” determined the substance to be suboxone or “heroin in a breath strip.” Detectives further described the substance to be an opiate in the form of a sublingual film.
The investigation further revealed that Gavin recruited his cell mate Rushing to have the mail sent to him in exchange for payment; and that the two sold and distributed the contraband to other inmates at the Pinellas County Jail. Investigators say that each stamps was sold for $20; and that each stamp was five dosage units if cut into five individual strips.
Through their investigation, detectives were able to identify Pergola as the source of supply of suboxone to Gavin and Rushing. Detectives said she used two fictitious return addresses that were later connected to her.
During her interview with detectives Aug. 19, Pergola allegedly admitted to the crime. She was transported to the Pinellas County Jail without further incident.