Probe leads to arrest of five for allegedly smuggling drugs into county jail


A Nassau County joint law enforcement investigation has led to the arrest of five people who, police say, attempted to smuggle heroin, K2, suboxone and marijuana into the Nassau County Correctional Center in East Meadow.

Officials announced on Aug. 8 that the investigation began after the Nov. 13 arrest of a woman who tried bringing two balloons into the jail, each filled with K2, marijuana, orange colored strips believed to be Suboxone, match heads and striker strips.

Drug-sniffing dogs spotted the balloons, which were concealed under several layers of clothing, and police arrested Valerie Ritchwood, 38, of Roosevelt. Ritchwood was arraigned that month and charged with promoting prison contraband. She was later released on bail, prosecutors said.

“Smuggling drugs into a jail setting is extremely dangerous and puts the safety of corrections officers, staff, inmates and community members at risk,” said District Attorney Madeline Singas. Following Ritchwood’s arrest, DA Singas launched an investigation called Operation United Front with the sheriff’s department, police department and United States Postal Inspection Service.

Less than a week later, a drug-sniffing dog intercepted a smuggling involving three more balloons filled with Suboxone, marijuana and matches. According to police, Dominique Horne, 33, of Hempstead, tried bringing the contraband to Christopher Wright, 32, an inmate at the jail.

Operation United Front led to two more arrests this year when, on Feb. 9, officers found heroin in an envelop and, within the following week, found Suboxone strips along the adhesive seals of two envelops. Natasha Hyslop, 40, of Hempstead, was arrested for allegedly mailing the drugs to Julius Eatman, 52, an inmate at the jail.

Horne was arraigned last month and charged with promoting prison contraband. Wright was arraigned on August 2 and charged with promoting prison contraband and criminal contempt. Both defendants were released on bail, records show.

Hyslop was arraigned last month and faces criminal possession charges and three counts of promoting prison contraband. According to records, she was released on bail. Eatman was arraigned in January and charged with three counts of promoting prison contraband. He is due back in court August 14.

“These arrests are a direct result of the hard work and tireless efforts of the men and woman from the different agencies working as one,” said Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder in a news release.

More as this story develops.