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Heroin smuggled inside burrito latest in string of jail breaches

January 12, 2012 |  9:21 am

The case of a sheriff's deputy accused of trying to get heroin into a courthouse jail inside a bean-and-cheese burrito marks the latest in a series of contraband-smuggling cases at Los Angeles County lockups.

"We take this very seriously," L.A. County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said of the burrito case. "This kind of behavior is absolutely inexcusable for anybody, especially a law enforcement representative."

In recent years, three Sheriff's Department guards have been convicted and a fourth fired in connection with smuggling or attempting to smuggle narcotics into jail for inmates.

Full coverage: L.A. jails in crisis

The porous nature of the jails was highlighted last year when The Times revealed that FBI agents conducted an undercover sting in which a deputy was accused of taking $1,500 to smuggle a cellphone to an inmate working as a federal informant. Federal authorities are investigating reports of brutality and other misconduct by deputies.

In a sign of how serious officials consider the smuggling problem to be, the Sheriff's Department recently recorded a former deputy, now in state prison, as he explained what led him to help inmates sneak in heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine.

On Wednesday, Deputy Henry Marin, 27, surrendered to fellow deputies at the Sheriff's Department's South Los Angeles station in connection with the burrito smuggling case. He pleaded not guilty to charges of bringing drugs into a jail and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Authorities said Marin has been relieved of duty. He was released from custody Wednesday on $25,000 bail.

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-- Robert Faturechi and Jack Leonard

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