MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Four male inmates at the Madison County Jail were hospitalized on Saturday afternoon after overdoses of a synthetic substance.
The Madison County Sheriff's Office said investigators believe the inmates intentionally ingested a synthetic substance that made it into the jail through the inmate mail system.
"We are aggressively investigating this incident and will hold anyone involved with mailing this substance into our facility responsible," said Sheriff Kevin Turner. "The health and safety of our inmates is of utmost importance, and our jail staff works hard everyday to try and prevent these incidents. It often only takes small amounts of these synthetic chemicals to cause an overdose."
According to Don Webster with HEMSI, HEMSI responded to the call at 5:32 p.m. on Saturday.
Webster said the men were taken to Huntsville Hospital. According to Webster, two men were taken in serious condition and the two others were in non-life threatening conditions.
On Monday, the sheriff's office said two of the men returned to the jail on Sunday, and the other two men are still at Huntsville Hospital.
The Madison County Sheriff's Office said investigators are working to determine exactly what the substance was and who is involved with sending it to the jail.
The sheriff's office said the techniques for smuggling substances into jails are constantly changing in attempts to avoid detection.
Law enforcement agencies across the country are being faced with challenges in terms of inmates receiving mail from people that liquefy illegal drugs, according to the sheriff's office. Drugs and chemicals are being saturated on stamps, papers, and envelopes.
The sheriff's office said once the chemical dries it is often undetectable, and when an inmate ingests the item it gives them the"high" effect similar to an illegal drug. This can often result in overdoses due to the inmate not knowing how much of the chemical they are ingesting.
“We will utilize every available resource we have to keep illegal substances from entering into the Madison County Jail Facility. The Jail employees are constantly working to monitor the incoming mail, but since many of these substances are often undetectable, it makes their job even harder," said Sheriff Kevin Turner. "We will continue to investigate this activity and will hold anyone responsible for participating accountable."