Three individuals have been arrested following an investigation into allegations of attempted smuggling at the Barton County Jail.
According to Sheriff Brian Bellendir, over the course of the last few days the sheriff’s office became aware of allegations from two separate sources that controlled substances were being smuggled into the jail.
“When we discovered we had a problem, it was dealt with swiftly,” Bellendir said.
BCSO detectives immediately launched an investigation and placed a civilian employee under surveillance.
Bellendir said it appears the inmates involved were inmate workers, or “trustees.” Inmate workers are allowed to assist with various functions around the jail and in the community, including picking up groceries at local businesses for the jail. One trustee, 30-year-old Hernan Montez of Great Bend, was allowed to accompany the jail cook on these errands. Montez was being held on a contempt of court charge.
Detectives learned that the employee and Montez had stopped at a residence in the 500 block of Odell while getting groceries and Montez reportedly contacted a person at the residence.
“At that point, detectives placed the residence on Odell Street under surveillance,” Bellendir said. When the trustee and the employee returned to the jail, Montez was searched and suspected methamphetamine was discovered. Detectives immediately began the process of obtaining a search warrant for the residence.
While they were waiting for a search warrant, a vehicle left the residence and a traffic stop was conducted near 6th and Odell. During the stop, the driver, Reynaldo Martinez, 35, of Great Bend, reportedly became combative, striking two officers and running back into the house. Deputies pursued Martinez inside and after a short struggle he was taken into custody.
After the search warrant was obtained for drugs for the same residence, deputies found more than a pound of suspected methamphetamine with an estimated street value of approximately $30,000.
During the investigation, detectives obtained information that the civilian employee, Tammy Batt, 45 of Russell, had been involved in an intimate relationship with one of the prisoners.
In total, three arrests were made and the following charges have been requested:
• Batt was arrested and booked for trafficking in contraband in a correctional institution and unlawful sexual relations. She has since posted a $50,000 bond.
• Martinez was arrested and booked for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, no drug tax stamp, two counts of battery of a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest and trafficking contraband in a correctional institution. His bond is set at $300,000.
• Montez was arrested and booked for possession of methamphetamine and trafficking in contraband in a correctional institution. His bond is set at $50,000.
Two shifts of officers were called in to assist with the operations. This included a complete search of the jail. Based on the findings of the investigation, Bellendir said, it is believed none of the drugs reached the jail’s general population. It appears the incident was confined to the inmate worker section of the jail, he said.