Mother, inmate son tried smuggling drug-filled TVs into Tennessee jail, deputies say

Tennessee authorities arrested an inmate and his mother on drug charges last week after discovering opioids in two televisions delivered to a jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

Corrections officers at the Sullivan County Jail found the first batch of prescription pills in a TV on April 5 and suspected the drugs were the schedule III narcotic Buprenorphine, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release on Monday. The pill is used to help drug users quit heroin and other opiates, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Televisions are allowed in jail cells,” deputies wrote in the release, explaining that “Sullivan County does not provide them. Inmates may have family members purchase a television and bring it to the jail.”

Narcotics investigators soon tied the intercepted drugs to Sherrie Crawford, a 55-year-old Kingsport woman, and Donovan Johnson, her 33-year-old son, who had been jailed in the county since Feb. 21 on charges ranging from assault and arson to drug sales, the Sheriff’s Office said.

But as authorities looked into the first apparent smuggling attempt, they discovered a second drug-loaded television — this one delivered for an inmate on April 9 with more prescription pills stuffed inside, believed to be of the same variety as the first shipment, deputies said.

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“Once again, the investigation led to the suspects being Sherrie Crawford and Donovan Johnson,” deputies said.

Johnson and Crawford were arrested last week on warrants charging them each with two counts of bringing drugs into a penal institution, the Sheriff’s Office said.

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