The Knox County Sheriff’s Office said that it expects to see a rise in drug smuggling at the jail because of judicial restrictions on the ability to strip search suspects.

Knox County Deputy Mark Tibbetts, who is assigned to Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, along with Maine State Police Trooper Scott Quintero investigated an incident Sept. 15 in the Knox County Jail where an inmate was in possession of several narcotic pills.

The inmate had smuggled the pills into the jail by use of her body cavities. The pills were seized by Deputy Tibbetts.

Sheriff Donna Dennison maintained that more drugs are making their way into the jail because of the court ruling prohibiting inmates from being strip searched unless they meet certain criteria.

“Many of the people going into our jail are drug users. They know they are not going to be strip searched so they easily secrete drugs into their body cavities and walk right into the jail,” Dennison said. “More drugs make it in than are found. It is only a matter of time before weapons are smuggled in because our searches are restricted. It is definitely a safety issue.”

The female who was found with drugs Sept. 15 will be charged, according to Chief Deputy Tim Carroll.

Knox County has settled two lawsuits over improper strip searches. Both occurred before Dennison was elected sheriff. In early 2009, a woman was paid $290,000 for an illegal strip search that occurred several years earlier. In 2001, the county paid $425,000 to a woman who had been taken to the jail based on a court paperwork error where she was repeatedly strip searched during her weekend at the jail.