Return to sender: observant secretary finds drugs in jail mail - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Return to sender: observant secretary finds drugs in jail mail

An alert secretary found drugs under the stamps on two suspicious postcards, the sheriff said. (Source: Baxter County Sheriff's Office) An alert secretary found drugs under the stamps on two suspicious postcards, the sheriff said. (Source: Baxter County Sheriff's Office)
Dennis Lawton (Source: Baxter County Sheriff's Office) Dennis Lawton (Source: Baxter County Sheriff's Office)
Jessica Diane Lee (Source: Baxter County Sheriff's Office) Jessica Diane Lee (Source: Baxter County Sheriff's Office)
BAXTER COUNTY, AR (KAIT) -

A local sheriff credits his office's secretary for kicking off a drug investigation leading to two arrests.

Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery said the secretary was processing mail for inmates on Wednesday when the worker noticed two suspicious postcards addressed to a particular inmate.

The stamps on the postcards appeared to have a "bulge under them and were positioned in such a manner that allowed them to be easily peeled back and removed," Montgomery said.

An "orange colored substance" was found under the stamps and field tested. It was found to be an opiate; however, investigators were not able to determine exactly what the substance was.

The return address on the postcards was for a parolee named Dennis Lawton who was living at 765 Baxter County Road 215 in the Jordan area.

After finding out Lawton had a warrantless search waiver investigators, including one with the 14th Judicial District Drug Task Force, went to the residence and spoke with Lawton and probationer Jessica Diane Lee.

Lee, according to the sheriff, admitted to sending the postcards to the jail and placing the stamps on the mail. However, she denied placing a controlled substance underneath the stamp.

Investigators searched the residence and found approximately 6.6 grams of meth packaged in two separate plastic baggies, digital scales, and numerous baggies "similar to the type often associated with the delivery of methamphetamine," according to Montgomery. In addition, a glass pipe, multiple syringes, Alprazolam pills, and a small amount of marijuana was found.

Following the investigation, Lawton and Lee were arrested and booked into the Baxter County Detention Center on the listed charges:

  • Possession of Methamphetamine with Purpose to Deliver – Felony
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (2 counts) – Felonies
  • Possession of Schedule IV Controlled Substance with Purpose to Deliver – Felony
  • Furnishing Prohibited Articles – Felony
  • Possession of Schedule VI Controlled Substance with Purpose to Deliver – Felony
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia – Misdemeanor

Lawton faces a penalty enhancement as a habitual offender. The sheriff said Lawton has been in jail about 11 times while Lee has been booked 7.

Bond for Lee was set at $50,000 while Lawton is being held on a $15,000 bond.

Both will appear in circuit court on July 20.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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