LAWRENCE — A food service worker at the The Farm, a prerelease center for Essex County inmates, has been charged with smuggling pills that appear to be fentanyl into the secured facility off Marston Street, said Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger. 

Pedro Carbonell Jr., 39, of Lawrence has been charged with delivering drugs to a prisoner in a correctional institution or jail, an offense carrying a sentence of up to five years in state prison, according to the Sheriff's Department. 

Carbonell was an employee of Aramark, a private food service contractor hired to provide inmate meals for the Sheriff’s Department, officials said. 

"A two-month investigation began after information was received that Carbonell was allegedly bringing drugs into the Pre-Release Center," a statement from the Sheriff's Department reads.

"Department personnel confronted Carbonell on May 16, 2020, as he arrived at the Lawrence facility for his early morning shift. Investigators said Carbonell admitted to smuggling in pills to inmates on two previous occasions," the Sheriff's Department statement reads.

Carbonell’s security clearance has been revoked and he has been banned from all Sheriff’s Department facilities, according to the statement.

Coppinger said, “The smuggling of contraband, including illicit drugs, into a correctional facility is a serious offense and we will work with the District Attorney’s Office to prosecute this to the fullest extent of the law.”

Carbonell will be arraigned at a later date in Lawrence District Court, Sheriff's Department officials said.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill

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