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‘High-dollar items’: Corrections commissioner celebrates South Ga. contraband bust as major victory

WAYCROSS, Ga. — Georgia Commissioner of Corrections Tyrone Oliver said a Monday night bust in South Georgia involving enough suspected methamphetamine for many thousands of doses is important to all Georgians.

He said crime behind the wire can interfere with rehabilitation efforts, and contraband cell phones in Georgia prisons can be used to set up crime on the street.

Oliver called the bust a major victory.

“We found 5.2 pounds of methamphetamine, six pounds of marijuana, 268 grams of MDMA, 10 pounds of tobacco and over 45 cellphones so far, and still processing,” Oliver said.

“Tobacco is a high-dollar item in prison?” Winne asked him.

“All these items are high dollar items in prison,” Oliver confirmed.

Oliver said the huge haul at one suspect’s house, which included a large drone, was undoubtedly headed to the big house, one or more of Georgia’s prisons.

He said he was “absolutely” certain the seized items were heading for state institutions.

“The investigation’s still going but we can say that we tied her into contraband drops at Telfair State Prison, and then also at Ware State Prison,” Oliver said.

The house where the contraband turned up belonged to 36-year-old Heather Elizabeth Clanton, who had been arrested Sept. 19 by the Telfair County Sheriff’s Office in connection with an alleged smuggling scheme at the prison there.

An investigator for Telfair Sheriff Sim Davidson got a search warrant for her house, in Waycross, and executed the warrant along with Georgia Department of Corrections investigators and Waycross police officers.

Now she faces charges there.

“We were just thankful for their partnerships because we can’t do it alone,” says Oliver.

Oliver said Clanton was re-arrested Monday night in Waycross.

He told Winne the busts were important to everyday people.

“It’s important to the people in the free world because we’ve gotta send a message that we’re not gonna allow the gangs and the criminal element to continue to operate within the Georgia Department of Corrections,” Oliver said. “We’re gonna use every asset available, every resource available to us, to combat this and eradicate it.”

The huge haul in Waycross underscores what Oliver said have been arrests of corrupt prison staff in Georgia. The stats suggest far more civilians are involved in smuggling illegal contraband through drone drops, among other means.

“This is something that we’re doing proactively not only at Telfair but in prisons around this state, and again, that’s one of the mandates that the governor gave me to make sure that we stop criminal activity and to hold those accountable and be tough on crime.”

Oliver said Clanton isn’t facing any gang charges, but that gangs control most of the prison contraband trade.

He said he knows of no direct connection to a similar, and recent, large bust made recently by the Butts County Sheriff’s Office, but the case is still under investigation.

We have made extensive efforts, without success, to try to find an attorney to someone who can speak on Clanton’s behalf.

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