Saturday, February 10, 2018

Inmate sentenced for having mother send drugs to Eloy prison in greeting cards

FLORENCE -- A mother and son were sentenced Friday for trying to smuggle a hallucinogenic substance into an Eloy prison by using greeting cards.
David M. Varela, 36, was given a 5-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to conspiring to promote prison contraband. He told Pinal County Judge Jason Holmberg he committed the offense out of fear for his life.
Investigators at the Red Rock Correctional Center became suspicious about Varela after observing some Valentine's Day cards sent to him in February 2016, court documents show. Upon inspection, prison staff found a leafy substances hidden behind plastic glued to the cards.

Drug tests identified the substances as synthetic marijuana, also known as "spice." The substance is known to induce mind-altering effects on users, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Court documents show Varela told prison investigators he instructed his mother, Norma, how to send him spice packages with greeting cards.
The mother was placed on 18 months of supervised probation after pleading guilty to facilitating the promotion of contraband.
Both defendants claimed they committed the offense to fend off other inmates trying to threaten and extort them. David Varela told the court he felt the prison failed to protect him.
A representative of Red Rock told a different story, telling Judge Holmberg that Varela was a master "manipulator" who had dragged his mother into a malicious crime.

The representative asked for the maximum possible sentence, arguing Varela put prison staff in jeopardy by trying to bring in a substance that causes violent outbursts.
Letters submitted to the court described Norma as a honest, caring person who was trying to keep her son safe in prison.
Varela is already serving an 11-year prison sentence for armed robbery out of Pima County. His latest sentence will run concurrent to his existing one.



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