A woman who attempted to sneak drugs to a Bulloch County Jail inmate is now behind bars in the same facility. The inmate to whom she sent the drugs is a convicted sex offender who was arrested on charges including auto theft in November.
Heidi Lynne Peralta, 42, of Westmont Drive in Augusta, was arrested after an investigation lasting several weeks, said Bulloch County sheriff's Chief Deputy Jared Akins.
Deputy Janie Weyer, working in the Jail Division, was conducting routine safety checks of inmate mail to prevent contraband from entering the facility when she discovered fentanyl, a schedule II controlled substance, hidden in mail addressed to inmate Terry Calahan on Dec. 20.
Calahan, 39, of Highway 88 in Blythe, is in jail on charges brought in November including theft by taking a motor vehicle, Akins said.
Calahan reportedly stole Statesboro woman Shay Gibson's truck in October and refused to return it after several promises to do so. Gibson and her father agreed to meet Calahan in Millen at McDonald's to "exchange" the stolen truck for money and pain pills she was prescribed for an injury - but when Calahan showed up, Millen police were on hand to arrest him.
He has been in the Bulloch County Jail ever since. Akins did not disclose the nature of Calahan's relationship with Peralta.
When Weyer found the drugs in December, she "contacted jail supervisors, who in turn assigned the case to the Statesboro-Bulloch Crime Suppression Team," Akins said. "Four days later, Deputy Weyer found more fentanyl strips in mail bound for inmate Calahan."
Both Calahan and Peralta are charged with crossing guard lines with contraband (two counts), possession with intent to distribute a schedule II drug (two counts), conspiracy to commit a felony and use of a communication facility in the commission of a felony. Both are being held without bond, pending further judicial action, Akins said.
"Deputy Weyer has received a commendation for her actions in preventing this dangerous drug from entering the facility," he said. "This incident marks the second time in recent months where jail staff has detected illegal drugs being smuggled into the facility."
Also in December, jail deputies discovered prescription pills concealed on an inmate who was serving a weekend sentence.
"Anyone found possessing or attempting to smuggle contraband into the Bulloch County Jail will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Akins said.