JEFFERSONVILLE — Eleven people face nearly 60 felonies combined for what police say was an elaborate plot to smuggle drugs into the Clark County jail between August and October.

Although 10 of those charged are behind bars, police are still searching for 41-year-old Matthew Bays, of Memphis, the alleged conspirator in the operation. He faces 26 felonies alone for dealing drugs or trafficking with an inmate.

"The sheriff's office makes it a priority to investigate people dealing drugs in the community and trying to introduce them into the facility," Col. Scottie Maples with the Clark County Sheriff's Office said Thursday during a news conference. "[This] was very in-depth; our detective group did a fantastic job of placing many criminal charges on people working this down as far as [they] can."

Among those served warrants for what police say was their part in the operation is Logan Rudolph, 28, or New Albany, who was one of three people charged in a separate case Nov. 7 when police intercepted a letter containing Suboxone mailed into the jail. He faces three felonies in the newest case.

"We will continue to proactively investigate people who attempt to bring drugs into our facility," Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel said in a news release. "The time and energy these offenders use to prey on the addicted for their own personal gain is indescribable and despicable.

Police became suspicious of potential plans to get drugs into the jail in August, when they intercepted coded messages sent between inmates and primarily Bays, who was on the outside. Court records show that between August and October, around 5,000 messages were sent to Bays' number from inmates using a standard communications system available for inmates to talk with friends or family.

Within those messages police say they discovered a code system themed around construction work, which dictated where and what type of drugs to be delivered.

"We always monitor inmate communications ... and during that time there were some key words that kept popping up for some inmates in the facility that didn't make sense," Maples said. "They were posing almost as they were foremen on job sites delivering paint which when you have multiple inmates doing that inside the facility it raised an eyebrow."

For instance "windows" meant methamphetamine, paint colors denoted types of pills. The "jobsite" was the drop-off point — primarily trashcans in the jail lobby. Prior to the start of the investigation, some inmates had access to this area as inmate workers — those entrusted with cleaning or other duties at the facility. Bays would be the main person delivering, police say.

Maples said he is confident that no drugs made it into the jail — once investigators learned of the alleged plans they stopped the practice which would allow inmates to work in a common area such as cleaning the jail lobby, effectively cutting off any supply before it made it inside, Maples said. They then focused on the investigation.

"Luckily we were able to locate some drugs and prevent many drugs from entering the facility," he said. "But the intent was obviously there."

Maples said the inmates don't have a way to communicate electronically with one another inside the jail, and likely operated on a word-of-mouth system for an operation such as this, the drugs going through a chain of people if they had entered the facility.

"If these drugs made it into the facility it would potentially go through five to 10 inmates before it even made it to where it needed to be," he said. "That's how elaborate smuggling drugs into the jail is, that's why we make it a priority to continue investigating it and shutting it down."

Also charged in the investigation are Ryan Bell, 31, Jeffersonville; Christopher M. Woosley, 36, Clarksville; Jarad Anderson, 30, New Albany; Devin J. Dunn, 23, Austin; Shane M. Summers, 30, New Albany; Adam C. Kime, 32, New Albany; Keith Daugherty, 30, Jeffersonville; Zachary W. Beyerle, 26, Sellersburg; Christopher R. Butler, 37, Memphis.

Anyone with information in this case, including the whereabouts of Bays, is asked to contact the Clark County Sheriff's Office tip line at 812-280-2276 or email tips@clarkcosheriff.com.

Aprile Rickert is the crime and courts reporter at the News and Tribune. Contact her via email at aprile.rickert@newsandtribune.com or by phone at 812-206-2115. Follow her on Twitter: @Aperoll27.

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