2 charged after detention officer exposed to Fentanyl found in Christmas cards mailed to inmate in Union Co.

2 charged after detention officer exposed to Fentanyl found in Christmas cards mailed to inmate in Union Co.
Fabian Pagan is charged with Providing Contraband to an Inmate and Possession with Intent to Sell or Deliver a Controlled Substance. Christy Pendry faces three counts of Providing Contraband to an Inmate. (Source: Union County Sheriff's Office)

UNION COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Two people have been arrested after a detention officer was exposed to Fentanyl found in Christmas cards mailed to an inmate in Union County.

Officials say two Union County Sheriff’s detention officers were processing inmate mail Tuesday morning when one officer realized a Christmas card addressed to an inmate appeared to have been altered.

The officer noticed one of the sections of the card had been glued down. After using a letter opener to separate the two sections, a white powdery substance fell into the officer’s hand.

The officer was not wearing gloves at the time and handed the card to the second officer in order to decontaminate his hands.

While handing the card to the second officer, some of the white powdery substance became airborne resulting in the second officer accidentally inhaling some of the powder.

Officials say jail medical staff immediately responded and rendered medical attention after the officer became dizzy and lightheaded. In addition, the officer experienced nausea and was transported to Atrium Union for further treatment and observation.

Detectives and Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) initiated an investigation to identify the white powdery substance as well as the origin of the card. A field test of the powder produced a positive reaction for Fentanyl. In addition to the presence of Fentanyl, Suboxone strips were found taped behind the altered section of the card.

The name and return address on the envelope was determined to be fictitious.

Jail staff found a second Christmas card bearing the same fictitious name and return address as the first one. Sections of this card were also altered and Suboxone strips were discovered concealed inside.

The two cards were addressed to inmates occupying the same cell.

A CSI latent print examiner successfully lifted prints from inside the altered section of the card matching 35-year-old Fabian Pagan.

Detectives determined that Pagan, a registered sex offender, lives at the same home as one of the inmates that one of the cards was addressed to.

Pagan was arrested Tuesday evening and faces several charges, including Providing Contraband to an Inmate and Possession with Intent to Sell or Deliver a Controlled Substance.

On Wednesday, detectives charged a second person, 43-year-old Christy Michelle Pendry, in connection with this case. Pendry faces three counts of Providing Contraband to an Inmate.

Officials say the detention officer exposed to the Fentanyl was treated and released from Atrium Union and is expected to fully recover.

This investigation remains active.

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