A dayroom in a shuttered wing of Osborn Correctional Institution Credit: Christine Stuart / CTNewsJunkie

State police arrested a Connecticut correction officer last week on charges she attempted to smuggle contraband including drugs and cellular phones into MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution, according to spokespeople for the police and Department of Correction.

State troopers charged Dezerae Ortiz, 25 of Manchester, with nine counts including conveyance of an electronic wireless communications device inside a correctional institution, illegal distribution of narcotic substance, and illegal distribution of cannabis.

An internal DOC investigation revealed that Ortiz had been discovered conveying suspected narcotics into the Suffield-based facility, according to a Connecticut State Police statement. Troopers assigned to Troop H arrived at the prison at around 11 p.m. on Thursday, the statement said.

“[A]s Ortiz arrived at the facility to begin her assigned shift, she was escorted to a private area and her personal property was searched,” the state police spokesperson said. “During the search, prohibited items including but not limited to cellular phones and charging equipment, and a SIM card activation kit were discovered, in addition to items consistent in appearance with narcotics.”

Troopers seized the items as evidence and took Ortiz into custody. She has since been released on $20,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Hartford Superior Court for arraignment on Oct. 27. 

Ortiz has been employed by the Department of Correction since April of 2022, according to the agency. In a statement, Commissioner Angel Quiros said his department had “zero tolerance” for staff conveying contraband into its facilities.

“I am both outraged and saddened that an individual who has taken a sworn oath to protect the public would make the unethical and corrupt decision to attempt to bring contraband into a correctional facility,” Quiros said. “On the other hand, I am also proud of the work of the upstanding staff members who were able to uncover the plan in advance, before it could be carried out.”