MOULTRIE — A Colquitt County Jail nurse was arrested on Friday after officers who searched her car based on an alert from a police dog found suspected drugs. Officers found suspected methamphetamine and marijuana in the vehicle as well as other contraband that is not allowed inside the facility, Colquitt County Sheriff’s Inv. Jerome Burgess said.
Jennifer Gail Sanchez is employed by Colquitt Regional Medical Center and has worked at the jail providing medical care for inmates for more than a year.
“The canine hit on the car,” Burgess said. “It was a hard hit on the car, according to the canine (handler).”
The scent of the marijuana was sufficient for the less sensitive noses of humans to detect, he said.
Employees who park behind the facility’s guard line are subject to search at any time, Burgess said, but Sanchez also agreed to let officers look through the car.
“We found a package inside the vehicle that contained multiple illegal substances,” he said.
Police said the search turned up about a half ounce of suspected marijuana and one to two grams of suspected methamphetamine. Officers also located cigarette rolling papers, tobacco and cigarette lighters in the package.
Sanchez, 33, has been charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent, possession of marijuana with intent and bringing contraband across guard lines.
Sanchez has been placed on unpaid leave pending the results of the investigation, a Colquitt Regional spokeswoman said on Monday.
Burgess said that the agency’s Drug Enforcement Team had received a tip that Sanchez was bringing contraband in to inmates. On Friday, after officers performed a sweep through the jail facilities checking inmate areas, they then checked all cars of employees parked at the time behind the jail guard line.
A dog also alerted to a second car during the investigation. A search turned up prescription medications in it for which the owner had valid prescriptions, Burgess said.
After finding the contraband the Sheriff’s Office turned the investigation over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The decision to call the state agency was made because nearly everyone at the jail is familiar with Sanchez.
“I thought it was a conflict for us to do our own investigation,” Burgess said. “We recognized — and talking to the administration they agreed — we should let an outside agency do the investigation because of the potential for conflict.”
The GBI has not finished its probe at this time.
“At the conclusion of the ongoing investigation it’s possible some more arrests will be made,” Burgess said.
Sanchez remained in jail as of midafternoon on Monday.