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Investigators: Fentanyl that killed 2 Thurston County Jail inmates was smuggled in during a booking

Within a 10-day period in March, a total of six inmates overdosed. Two of them died.

THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. — The source of the fentanyl that killed two inmates at the Thurston County jail, and caused another four to overdose, was an inmate, said investigators.

Inmates Anthony Baker and Alex Nieland-Herrera died from fentanyl overdoses in March.

Within a 10-day period, a total of six inmates overdosed. Jail staffers were able to revive the other four using Narcan.

Since the deaths happened within a Thurston County facility, detectives from Mason and Grays Harbor Counties are investigating.

According to newly released documents from the Mason County investigation, an inmate said he had smuggled the fentanyl in when he was booked into the jail in late February. He said he hid it inside a body part.

He told investigators he was going to use the drugs for personal use, but said other inmates had taken the drugs from him.

Investigators said the inmate wanted to come forward after the overdoses because he didn’t want any other inmates to die, claiming the fentanyl was “highly potent, 98% pure, and very dangerous."

KING 5 News is not identifying anyone in the case until they are criminally charged.

Thurston County’s Prosecuting Attorney’s office is reviewing the preliminary investigations from the outside agencies and will be working with the agencies before making any decisions on criminal charges, according to a spokesperson. 

According to investigators in the days after the overdoses, drug-sniffing dogs found fentanyl in several cells, hidden in a Chapstick container, hollowed-out chess pieces, and in plastic baggies.

Thurston County Sheriff Derek Sanders said he would not comment on the case until prosecutors make a decision on criminal charges.

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