Matsqui prison inmate caught with $5,700 worth of marijuana and tobacco

The medium-security Matsqui prison in Abbotsford, B.C., is shown on Sept. 14, 2006. Richard Lam/CP

An inmate at the medium-security Matsqui prison in Abbotsford was caught with a package of marijuana and tobacco that was worth $5,700 after he met with someone in the facility’s visit and correspondence area, the institution said Friday.

The offender was leaving the visits area at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday when staff became suspicious that something had been passed to him.

“The inmate was searched and was found after that visit to have a package of contraband,” Tanner said.

The facility has both ion scanners and drug-detector dogs to prevent substances from entering the prison.

Ion scanners test visitors to the institution for trace amounts of drugs.

A visit may be denied if those scanners detect something.

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However, the scanners can be bypassed on occasion when people hide substances in toothpaste or condoms.

Tanner said he didn’t think a drug detector dog was used in this instance.

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It’s not certain how the package managed to enter the prison in the first place. Matsqui officials are investigating what happened.

The amount of drugs seized wasn’t much — there were seven cigarettes and three packages of marijuana.

The $5,700 reflect the “prison value” of the drugs, not their street value, Tanner said.

“In a jail, a factory cigarette with inmates could sell for $100,” he added.