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Jail Drug Smuggling Bust Nets Man Arrested by Tarpon Springs Police

Detention deputies were preparing to transfer inmate Michael David Gavin from the Pinellas County jail to the Jefferson County jail Aug. 1 when they noticed something odd.

Gavin, 30, had started asking every deputy and jail employee he saw to help him get his mail, according to a news release from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

Clerks began to look more closely at Gavin’s mail. They took notice of four pieces of mail. They found that little orange squares were concealed behind the stamp on each piece.

The find was the start of an investigation that revealed 11 pieces of mail with orange squares hidden behind the stamps.  Testing revealed the squares to be a drug called “suboxone”, also known as “heroin in a breath strip."

They found that Gavin wasn’t the only one getting the suspect mail. Another recipient was his cellmate Jermonte Rushing, of S., Petersburg.  Rushing, 30, also got letters with the orange paper behind the stamps, and the envelopes had writing similar to the writing on letters to Gavin.

Gavin had recruited Rushing to receive the mail in return for pay, according to the e-mail.  The cellmates then sold the concealed drug within the Pinellas County Jail. Each stamp was sold for $20.

Jail records for Gavin, a Palm Harbor resident, show he had been arrested by the Tarpon Springs Police Department in 2012 on charges of auto burglary and violation of probation.  Records show Rushing had been arrested March 7 on charges of carjacking and driving without a license.

Now, each is being arrested again and charged with introduction/possession of contraband in a county detention facility.

The two felons aren’t the only implicated in the case. Deputies say the letters came from Kaitlyn Pergola, of 10543 Portofino Circle, Trinity. Pergola is Gavin’s girlfriend, according to deputies. Pergola used two fake return addresses that were later connected to her, deputies say.

Pergola was arrested Aug. 19 for two counts introduction/possession of contraband in a county detention facility and violation of probation.

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