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Calipatria prison on high alert after powdery substance spills from photo

May 01, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA

Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — Officials at Calipatria State Prison were on high alert Tuesday after a Polaroid photograph spilled a powdery white substance suspected to possibly be anthrax.

An officer was sorting through contraband mail about 2:50 p.m. Tuesday when he noticed a white powdery substance fall out of a Polaroid photo sent to an inmate, said Calipatria State Prison Public Information Officer Lt. Thelma Swetich.

After tests by the Imperial County Hazardous Material Team and officers at the prison, it was determined it was not anthrax or any type of narcotic. Officials aren't sure yet what the substance was.

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Swetich said it is common for people to try to smuggle drugs into the prison through photos.

All mail coming into the prison is checked by officers. If officers think any piece of mail may be being used to smuggle some narcotic or something, it is labeled contraband mail and is not given to inmates. It is then checked by officers.

The photo in question had been stapled to a paper labeling it as contraband mail. Swetich said when the officer removed the staple the substance leaked out.

>>Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

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