5 charged with distributing drugs via coloring book

It was discovered, that Suboxone pills/film were being dissolved into a paste (usually orange in color) and then painted into a children's coloring book page.

March 29, 2011 3:40:41 AM PDT
A page in a children's coloring book turned out to be a lot more and resulted in five people being charged for the distribution of drugs.

Every day at the Cape May County Correctional Facility, officers search through mail looking for what they call contraband - drugs, weapons, anything dangerous that people on the outside try to get to prisoners on the inside.

A yellow filled coloring book, at first, did not seem to fit the bill.

"On the surface we would never see this as contraband. It would look just like a child's art project," Cape May County Correctional Officer Kathleen Krych said.

And that, it seems, was the point.

The yellow substance on the coloring book page is actually something called Suboxone, a narcotic film, dissolved into paste, then spread to look like paint.

The theory, police say, is once inside, inmates could lick it off the paper to get high.

"38 years in law enforcement, and I've done narcotic work, undercover narcotics myself, and I've never seen anything like this," Cape May County Sheriff Gary Schaffer said.

Correctional officers were tipped off about the contraband from a confidential source and began a two month investigation.

By the second week of February, the tainted pictures started showing up inside the facility and were immediately sent out for testing.

The test results came back saying it was Suboxone, which is normally used to wean addicts off of opiates, much the same way methadone is used to control heroin addiction. But taking it without a doctor's direction can be extremely dangerous.

"When it's first used, first being administered, you have to almost daily monitor that because it can cause breathing problems and death," Schaffer said.

Three inmates were arrested: Zachary Hirsh, Charles Markham, and Paul Scipione. Each are charged with conspiracy to commit a crime.

Debbie Longo, the mother of one of the inmates, is charged with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous substance.

"I was shocked. They have so much time on their hands, I guess they can pretty much do anything," Officer Courtney Perry said.

Investigators were able to intercede before anyone was hurt taking the drug, but they want correction officers across the country to be on notice as they are suspicious it could be part of a larger trend.

Authorities are looking for one more person in connection with this crime, Katelyn Mosebach of Trevose, Pa.

Police are asking anyone with information on the location of Katelyn Mosebach or further information on this incident to contact the Correctional Center at 609-465-1029 or anonymously contact crime stoppers at 609-465-2800 or by texting tips anonymously to the Sheriff's tip line ? text to 847411 and start your text with cmcso.