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Four arrested in drug smuggling attempt at jail

From left: Joshua Sanders, Bonnie Russell, Dominick Woods, and Brittney Childers were arrested in an alleged drug smuggling attempt at the Hart County Jail. Photos: Hart County Jail Website and Nelson County Jail Website

Mary Beth Sallee

Managing Editor

Hart Co. News-Herald


Four individuals were arrested after an alleged attempt to smuggle drugs into the Hart County Jail.

It began on July 30 when an inmate had his girlfriend bring him a pair of eyeglasses to the jail. Those glasses were inside of an eyeglass case.

A male deputy at the jail was examining the case when a pill fell out. The deputy’s first reaction was to pick up the pill, which was unknowingly laced with a synthetic fentanyl. A female deputy also touched one of the pills.

According to Jailer Israel Bergenson, the male deputy had a severe reaction to the fentanyl and had to be administered Narcan. The female deputy had a less-severe reaction. Both deputies were transported to The Medical Center at Caverna to receive treatment and are now doing well.

The initial investigation revealed two people involved in the drug smuggling attempt 35-year-old inmate Joshua Lee Sanders and 36-year-old Bonnie Russell, the woman who attempted to smuggle the pills into the jail for Sanders.

After Bergenson contacted the Munfordville Police Department, the investigation continued with Officer Jacob Highbaugh leading the way.

Officer Highbaugh put forth additional man hours to listen to phone calls and read messages from Chirper, a device program that allows inmates to send text messages to family and friends. That’s when it was discovered that another inmate at the jail, 21-year-old Dominick Cervontae Woods, and another woman, 24-year-old Brittney Nichole Childers, were also involved in the attempted drug smuggling.

All four individuals were charged with the following crimes:
– Trafficking in a Controlled Substance, 1st degree;
– Engaging in Organized Crime;
– Promoting Contraband, 1st Degree (Attempt).

On August 17, Woods and Childers were transferred to the Nelson County Correctional Center in Bardstown. As of August 21, Sanders and Russell remain lodged at the Hart County Jail.

Officer Jacob Highbaugh with the Munfordville Police Department played a vital role in investigation. Photo submitted.

Jailer Bergenson said he is thankful for Officer Highbaugh, as well as having a good working relationship with all of Hart County’s law enforcement agencies.

“I just wanted to brag on Jacob because we knew there were two involved (in the smuggling attempt), but we didn’t know about the other two,” Bergenson explained. “…Jacob spent a lot of extra hours. It takes a long time to go through every phone call, every Chirp…Sometimes there’s 200-300 pages of texts…It takes hours and hours of investigation, so Jacob did a real job of digging into it and staying with it to figure out there were two more involved.”

“He’s a young officer,” Bergenson added of Officer Highbaugh. “But I believe he’s got a bright future in the police agency.”


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