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Local jail may soon have body scanners to combat drug smuggling

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. – Devices used for security at airports could soon be used at the Henrico Jail to combat drug smuggling.

Soon a new hands-off device will allow Henrico County Sheriff's Office worker to go beyond what their hands can feel.

"It's pretty much a constant battle of drugs coming into our facility," Jessica Farrar, an investigator with the Henrico County Sheriff's Office, said.

The county is in the process of getting full body scanners similar to those used at airports to  detect contraband inmates may try to smuggle inside.

That way when an inmate enters the jail, he or she will pass through a full body imaging machine called SecurPass.

An image from a body scan.

An image from a body scan.

"They are secreting drugs," Farrar said. "So nothing like a regular pat down search or even a strip search detect it because it's inside of the person that is bringing the drugs into the facility."

In fact, there have been more than two dozen reported cases of drugs smuggled into the jail including marijuana and heroin in the past three months, according to Henrico Sheriff Michael Wade.

And just this week, deputies busted an inmate with Kratom. That substance is a mixture of chemicals used as a synthetic form of heroin.

Investigators said most of the reported cases stem from suspects reporting to the jail.

But with the device, inmates will step inside with shoes in hand and slide through to get a complete scan that will show a crystal clear image in less than ten seconds. And at a cost of about $180,000, officials at the sheriff's office said it is a good investment.

"We try to catch them as often as we can, but just like we're trying to think of new ways to catch them," Farrar said. "They're thinking of new ways to conceal them on their body."

Henrico's commonwealth's attorney is now reviewing the device to make sure it is safe for use at the jail.

There has been no word yet on when it will be installed.

Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody Jr. is also considering the full body scanner at the Richmond Justice center.