A group of inmates and their girlfriends smuggled cellphones and drugs into the Charleston County jail in repackaged saline bottles, the Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday.
Three inmates and two women were arrested, and deputies were looking for another former inmate, Assistant Sheriff Mitch Lucas said.
The scheme involved emptying a large saline bottle, putting a cellphone or drugs inside, and resealing the bottle and packaging.
The plan started in April and fell apart the end of May when a security officer thought an X-ray looked suspicious and called for the bomb squad. It then took an investigation several weeks to establish all the links, Lucas said.
Visitors were allowed to bring inmates medical supplies that weren't available in the jail commissary, Lucas said. Saline can't be brought in from the outside anymore, he said.
"It's going to be really hard to get anything into the Charleston County jail now," Lucas said.
Inmates Antonio McNeil, 21, Kadrin Singleton, 22, Timothy Patrick, 23, were all charged with multiple smuggling counts.
McNeil, charged with seven counts of attempting to furnish inmates with contraband, was in jail on charges of murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, second-degree burglary and malicious injury to property.
Singleton, charged with 13 counts of attempting to furnish inmates with contraband, was in jail on charges of trafficking cocaine, simple possession of marijuana, possession of a stolen vehicle, resisting arrest and failure to stop for a blue light.
Patrick, charged with seven counts of attempting to furnish inmates with contraband, was jailed on charges of first-degree burglary, a narcotics offense and simple possession of marijuana.
Tyra Buie, 28, of Bacons Bridge Road in Summerville was charged with nine counts of distribution of narcotics and 13 counts of attempt to furnish an inmate with contraband.
Brittany Wilder, 21, of Wedgwood Circle in Goose Creek, was charged with five counts of distribution of narcotis and seven counts of attempt to furnish an inmate with contraband.
Brandon Ontrell Williams, 29, was also part of the ring when he was in jail and is considered a fugitive, Lucas said. That means anybody he might be staying with would also be charged if they don't turn him in.
Williams' original charges weren't immediately available, but he's currently wanted on nine narcotics and 13 contraband charges.
Each contraband charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
"We're not going to cut any deals with these guys." Lucas said.
"This strikes at the very heart of public safety in Charleston County."
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.
Editor's note: This version of the story corrects the number of charges.