Retired Attorney Accused of Smuggling Drug-Laced Papers into Jail, Leading to Inmate Deaths

A former attorney from the Houston area, Ronald Lewis, 77, is now facing legal charges himself. He stands accused of smuggling drug-infused papers into the Harris County Jail, an act that allegedly led to the death of two inmates, as per the Harris County authorities. Lewis is currently facing two charges related to the possession of a prohibited substance within a correctional facility.

Upon his arrest on November 17, Lewis was found to be carrying 11 sheets of paper, which are now undergoing testing by the Texas Rangers to confirm the presence of narcotics. Court documents reveal that at least two inmate deaths were linked to the substances Lewis is suspected of introducing into the jail. Several other inmates have also reported experiencing severe side effects.

During a press conference, Lt. J Wheeler of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office explained that the drug-laced papers were often disguised as legal mail or other types of legal documents. Inmates would allegedly pay attorneys between $200 and $500 to smuggle in these papers. The substance identified in the court documents is methoxy dimethyl oxobutane.

According to Lt. Wheeler, Lewis visited 14 inmates between July and November 2023. During the course of the investigation, around 154 sheets of paper suspected to be laced with narcotics were seized. The nature of the relationship between Lewis and the inmates remains unclear, as per a prosecutor from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has been proactive in combating crime and dangerous narcotics within the jail. In response to criticism over a rise in jail deaths, he established a task force in March. The jail has also implemented stricter security measures, including the addition of three drug-sniffing dogs and more stringent protocols for jail mail.

In 2022, 27 inmates died in Harris County authorities’ custody, and 19 have died so far in 2023. Lewis was released on a $7,500 bond on Saturday, and as part of his bond conditions, he is prohibited from visiting anyone at the jail while his case is ongoing.