Deputies find drugs at Latorraca center

jsmith@mercedsunstar.comFebruary 7, 2013 

BEA AHBECK CASSON/ John Latorraca Correctional Facility in Merced Monday. (1-7-13)

— The Sheriff's Department said Thursday a search of the John Latorraca Correctional Center has turned up methamphetamine and other illegal items.

Correctional officers used a drug-sniffing dog to search a dorm at the facility, discovering meth, smoking pipes and a homemade weapon.

It's still not clear if any inmates will be charged in connection with the items, officials said. However, the dorm has been put on lockdown.

The drug discovery is still under investigation, said spokesman Tom MacKenzie.

"It is not known at this time whether all inmates in the dorm were responsible or a select few," he said. "Inmates can face additional charges, extended jail sentences, revocation of privileges."

Deputy Brankel Nobari and his dog conducted the search after a recent investigation lead to suspicions of the contraband, according to law enforcement officials.

More searches are planned for the facility.

Drugs are smuggled into the jail in a variety of ways, including being tossed over the fence and concealed in body cavities, authorities said.

Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or

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