Former Phoenix jail officer is sentenced for smuggling drugs into facility

PHOENIX (AP) — A former jail officer in Phoenix has been sentenced to two years in prison for smuggling drugs into the detention facility where he worked, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office said Thursday.

Andres Salazar, 28, was arrested in November 2022 as he arrived for work at the Lower Buckeye Jail with close to 60 grams of methamphetamine and more than 100 fentanyl pills in his vehicle, prosecutors said.

Salazar had been with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office since October 2019. He was under investigation for over a month before his arrest.

He pleaded guilty in December to a felony count of soliciting to commit promoting prison contraband.

“Fentanyl is a poison that is seeping into every corner of Maricopa County. It is critically important that our jails remain drug-free,” County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said in a statement.

According to prosecutors, Salazar was part of a narcotics ring and had been expecting “payments from outside sources” for bringing the drugs into the jail. Three others also were indicted in connection with the operation, including two inmates and a man who authorities say provided the drugs. Their cases are ongoing.

“The trafficking of drugs inside our facilities is dangerous and unacceptable and those that pose a public safety risk to our community and our staff members will continue to be held accountable,” Sheriff Russ Skinner said.