Ex-detention officer sentenced for smuggling meth, fentanyl into Lower Buckeye Jail

A former Maricopa County Sheriff's Office detention officer was sentenced to prison for smuggling methamphetamine and fentanyl into Lower Buckeye Jail.

Andres Salazar, 28, was sentenced to two years behind bars and four years of probation, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office said on March 14. Salazar was arrested in November 2022 as he arrived to work. Authorities say more than 100 fentanyl pills were found inside his vehicle.

"This detention officer was hired in October 2019," said then-Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone. "Recently worked with inmates and some folks on the outside and attempted to bring fentanyl and methamphetamine into the jail."

Salazar pleaded guilty last December.

"MCSO is committed to providing exceptional public safety and detention services to the community members of Maricopa County," MCSO Sheriff Russ Skinner said. "The sentencing of former MCSO detention officer Andres Salazar today is a direct result of the hard work and dedication by the MCSO's Custody Bureau Intelligence Division, our sworn investigators and MCAO prosecutors. The trafficking of drugs inside our facilities is dangerous and unacceptable and those that pose a public safety risk to our community and our staff members will continue to be held accountable."

Three people who were allegedly involved in the smuggling operation, inmates Antwaun Ware, 26, and Gilbert Lerma, 24, as well as the alleged dealer, Khadar Sheikh, were indicted by a grand jury.

Andres Salazar

Lerma was indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit promoting prison contraband. Ware and Sheikh were indicted on one count each of conspiracy to commit promoting prison contraband, sale or transportation of a dangerous drug, and sale or transportation of a narcotic drug.

"Fentanyl is a poison that is seeping into every corner of Maricopa County," Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said. "It is critically important that our jails remain drug-free. My office will continue to support MCSO in its efforts to keep jails clean."