SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Surveillance video reviewed after a prison smuggling operation was broken up shows the alleged crime occurred in broad daylight, but no one inside or outside the facility noticed it for days.
A cord made up of several jail-issued headphone cords was found strung outside a hole in a cell window and tied to a tree on busy Ringling Boulevard in front of the Sarasota County Jail.
According to an affidavit obtained by 8 On Your Side, a suspect brought several items — including a bag of crack cocaine — from the street into his cell over four days in October.
John Hicks, 37, was there on Saturday, October 14, from 12pm to 2pm, from 3pm to 3.20pm the next afternoon and from 2pm to 2.45pm the following Monday in a video in which he fished objects out of the window.
This cord was attached to a broom handle that was used to drag the contraband into his cell in E Block.
The affidavit states that Hicks was also seen on video “banging on the window” on several days beginning Oct. 6.
Someone from the outside is suspected of putting the cell phones, chargers, vape pen and crack cocaine into bags that were tied to the other end of the cable.
When the crack bag was found, it contained “six stones.” According to sheriff’s office spokesman Evan Keats, inmates in the cell block underwent drug testing after the operation was suspended and showed no signs of impairment.
Keats said he could not comment on suspected civilian involvement in the plan.
“This is part of an ongoing criminal investigation which I cannot comment further on at this time,” Keats said.
Keats was asked if the surveillance video is being monitored live as it is being recorded. He said he would check with facility management regarding this request.
A total of six inmates are in trouble.
Keats said Antonio Blan, 19, James Tolbert, 23, Juan Salazar-Diaz, 26, and LaDarius Richardson, 26, were charged with facility violations and face internal sanctions.
Hicks’ cellmate, Michael Bodiker, 42, is charged with trafficking contraband.
Hicks, who investigators said began crying after he was caught, is charged with 11 felony counts in connection with the smuggling caper.