OKEECHOBEE — A kitchen worker at the Okeechobee County Jail was arrested Wednesday, March 2, for allegedly supplying tobacco and marijuana to prisoners.
Two current inmates and two former inmates were also arrested for their alleged connection to the case.
Maryella Gonzalez was charged with two felony counts of introduction of contraband into a county detention facility, and one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana under 20 grams. Her bond was set at $2,250. Jail records show she has been released on bond. Her employment has also been terminated, said corrections administrator Captain Tony Madrigal.
Also arrested were former inmates Mark Wesley Garland Jr., and Joshua David Stevens, of Okeechobee. Current inmates Charles Daniel Scott, of Okeechobee, and Daniel Lamar Tindall, Okeechobee, were also arrested.
Garland, 26, was charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to introduce contraband into a county detention facility (tobacco and marijuana), sale/delivery of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.
He was also arrested on a felony charge of violation of probation – driving while license suspended.
Garland is being held without bond.
Stevens, 30, was charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to introduce contraband into a county detention facility (tobacco and marijuana). His bond was set at $10,000. Jail records show he has been released on bond.
Scott, 32, was charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to deliver/introduce contraband into a county detention facility (tobacco and marijuana). His bond has been set at $10,000.
Tindall, 34, was charged with one felony count of introduction of contraband into a county detention facility. He is being held without bond on that charge.
Court records show Tindall was in the county jail awaiting transport to a state prison.
Tindall entered a plea of no contest to conspiracy to commit racketeering and was sentenced Feb. 10 to 32 months in prison. He had been arrested in connection with the large roundup of methamphetamine dealers in August of 2015.
According to an arrest affidavit by a detective with the Okeechobee Narcotics Task Force, the contraband was being brought into the jail by Gonzalez, who then gave the smokeless tobacco to Scott.
Task force detectives reportedly stopped Gonzalez at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday and found four cans of smokeless tobacco in the pouch of her apron.
Three of those were sealed, but the seal on the fourth tin had been broken.
When the detectives opened that tin they found a substance that, when tested, indicated a positive result for the presence of marijuana, continued the arrest report.
The suspected pot weighed 1.3 grams, pointed out the detective.
At this same time, detention deputies were searching cells occupied by Scott and Tindall.
The detective stated the deputies found an open can of the same type of smokeless tobacco in Scott’s cell. The deputies reportedly found three unopened tins of the same smokeless tobacco in Tindall’s cell.
“Inmates are not permitted to possess or use tobacco in the Okeechobee County Jail,” stated the detective’s report. “These cans of smokeless tobacco are considered contraband and are a violation of Florida state statute.”
Court records show that Scott was arrested in July of 2015 on felony charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a controlled substance (hydromorphone) without a prescription. He was also arrested on a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.
He is awaiting trial.
It was not clear as of newspaper deadline how long Gonzalez had worked in the jail’s kitchen.
Tindall and 24 other people were arrested in August and September of last year on charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering. All were allegedly involved in a meth distribution ring that moved the drug into Okeechobee, Glades, Highlands and Polk counties.
Fifteen other alleged ring members were indicted on federal charges.
At the center of the ring was Steven Lee ‘Wildman’ Oakes, of Davenport.
He would get the meth then take it to Okeechobee, Lorida, Glades County and Brighton Reservation for distribution, said assistant state attorney Ashley Albright, who prosecuted the 25 state cases.
Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News