Durham man charged with selling drugs to prisoners. Here’s how deputies say he did it.

Durham County sheriff’s deputies charged a man with selling drugs to prison inmates across the state after finding hundreds of pills and other narcotics in his home, according to court documents.

Eric Lamont Perry, 40, remains in jail on a $500,000 bail after being arrested Oct. 10 on charges that include trafficking MDMA, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, schedule I and schedule II controlled substances.

He was also charged with two counts of possession of a stolen firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon.

The charges follow the N.C. Department of Public Safety contacting the Durham County Sheriff’s Office about Perry, whom they had identified after monitoring inmate phone calls at several state detention facilities, according to a search warrant application seeking access to Perry’s home and telephone.

“Through the intercepted phone calls, it has been determined that Perry has established a sophisticated system of mailing and/or smuggling narcotics into various prisons throughout the state,” the warrant states. “This systematic operation occurred on a regular and routine basis and has been for a long period of time.”

In phone calls with inmates, Perry stated he “can get the best grams of meth” in the state, the warrant states. He also talks about obtaining “orange squares,” “strips,” “K2,” “weed,” “subtex,” “bath salts,” and “sheets.”

Perry also had telephone conversations with prisoners that included instructions on how to pay for the drugs through a mobile payment service, soaking paper in an unknown substance and having narcotics thrown into a prison yard, the warrant states.

Ecstasy, Suboxone strips

At Perry’s home, deputies found 585 MDMA tablets, commonly known as ecstasy, 368 Suboxone strips, narcotics soaked paper, two guns and other items, according to the warrants. Suboxone is a drug sometimes used to treat opioid dependence.

“There is no doubt drugs get into prisons despite extensive efforts to keep them out,” according to John Bull, spokesperson for the N.C. Department of Public Safety, which oversees state prisons.

Other states and county-run jails face the same issue.

“This is a constant battle, fought daily,” Bull wrote in an email.

A News & Observer analysis of the 44 North Carolina jail deaths in 2018 found that eight were drug related, including two who died after being in jail for months, The News & Observer reported.

Drugs are thrown over fences, hidden in mail, smuggled in during visitation and occasionally, and, on occasion, brought in by staff, Bull wrote.

The department has “a zero-tolerance policy” for anyone who is caught trying to bring in contraband, he wrote. Everyone is searched prior to entry.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer