UPDATE: Police respond to inmate overdose and Tabor City Corrections officer charged with drug smuggling
TABOR CITY, NC (WWAY) — In Columbus County, an investigation is ongoing after one Tabor City prisoner died of an overdose, two correctional officers resigned, and one was arrested for smuggling drugs.
31-year-old Dustin Goodson overdosed in Tabor City Correctional Facility November 16, dying days later in McLeod Loris hospital. Now, an investigation into prison drug smuggling, which officers said could be a widespread problem is on the move.
24-year-old guard Wesley Thompson is charged with drug violations, trafficking, smuggling into Tabor City Correctional following the inmate’s deadly overdose. Thompson has not been linked to Goodson’s death, meaning other officers or former officers could be involved.
“That is a potential,” said Assistant Tabor City Police Chief Russell Conway. “As you stated, the investigation is ongoing. We’re looking at every lead, and we’re going to exhaust every opportunity we have to bring the people involved to justice.”
Department of Public Safety’s John Bull said North Carolina’s prison system stops smuggling on a weekly basis.
“They’re throwing them over the fence sometimes in basketballs or footballs,” Bull explained. “Sometimes hidden in the mail system. Trying to smuggle it in through books.”
According to Tabor City Police, Thompson trafficked the synthetic cannabinoid K2 Spice, one of several drugs popular in the prison system.
“Suboxone, fentanyl, K2 spice. There’s been multiple different products that could be brought into prison,” said Conway.
Conway says this is not the only time guards have trafficked drugs in Tabor City.
“When they see that financial incentive, you know, they don’t have enough money to fix their car or pay their house payment. They may go to the other side of the law,” he said.
Conway said soon after officers either continue for money or because of blackmail.
Conway continued, “Well you know you’ve already done this for me once. Now you’re in a situation where, if you don’t do this for me, I’m going to tell them.”
Regardless of the reason, Bull said law enforcement, the State Bureau of Investigation, and the prison system take crimes like this very seriously.
“It fuels the drug trade,” said Bull. “It can result in violence. We have a zero tolerance policy for anyone who tries to introduce drugs or other contraband into the prison system.”
Columbus County District Attorney Jon David released a response to the overdose and charges Wednesday afternoon, saying in part:
“The District Attorney’s Office has requested the State Bureau of Investigation to investigate allegations that multiple prison guards have brought illegal drugs into the Tabor Correctional Institution. Moreover, we are seeking to determine if the recent death of an inmate by a suspected drug overdose is related to this activity.”