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Palm Beach County corrections deputies arrested, accused of smuggling drugs into jail

Karl Kirkland faces charges including trafficking in methamphetamine; Jose Gutierrez faces charges including conspiracy to introduce contraband into jail
Karl Kirkland, deputy arrested at first appearance
Posted at 12:09 PM, Apr 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 18:58:15-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Two Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office corrections deputies have been arrested, accused of smuggling drugs into the county jail.

Deputies Karl Kirkland and Jose Gutierrez were arrested Tuesday. Kirkland faces charges of introducing contraband into a county facility and trafficking in methamphetamine. Gutierrez faces charges of conspiracy to introduce contraband into a county detention facility and possession of marijuana.

According to probable cause affidavits, the arrests were the result of an investigation into corrections deputies assisting inmates with bringing contraband into the jail.

Investigators were notified that an inmate at the main jail was using another inmate's telephone account Monday to call a woman, identified as Isabel Rosario, about arranging a meeting with Kirkland so that he can "help her wrap the presents."

Further investigation revealed that the same inmate used another inmate's account to call about a "food" order for Kirkland in March.

According to the affidavit, Kirkland and Rosario agreed to meet at a McDonald's on Northlake Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens on Monday -- the same day that Kirkland was scheduled to work at the jail.

Palm Beach County Main Detention Center
Palm Beach County's Main Detention Center is located on Gun Club Road in West Palm Beach.

Detectives conducting undercover surveillance observed Kirkland drive into the McDonald's parking lot and park his blue Toyota Camry behind Rosario's silver Chevrolet Tahoe. Detectives said she got out of her vehicle, approached the driver's side window of Kirkland's car and handed him a brown bag "with what appeared to be a pink in color object."

Investigators followed Kirkland as he drove south on Interstate 95 toward the jail, drove past it and to a nearby gas station on the corner of Military Trail and Gun Club Road. Investigators said he stopped near the gas pumps before driving back toward the jail.

Detectives went to the gas station and located the bag inside the garbage can. According to the affidavit, inside the bag were "correspondence, loose cigarettes and a clear plastic baggie containing 31 grams" of methamphetamine.

Kirkland was taken into custody as he arrived for work.

Karl Kirkland, deputy in bond court after arrest
Karl Kirkland listens with his head down as assistant state attorney Diva O'Bryan speaks during his initial court appearance, April 7, 2021, in West Palm Beach, Fla.

A probable cause affidavit for Gutierrez alleges that he received a food delivery at the jail. Inside the Domino's pizza box and two Domino's sandwich bags were two plastic bags containing marijuana.

During an interview with detectives, Gutierrez told detectives that he didn't order the food and was unaware of the delivery but that his wife sometimes sends him food. However, when detectives called Gutierrez's wife and asked if she ordered any food for her husband, she said she "has never ordered food for him."

According to the affidavit, Gutierrez told detectives that somebody must have used his name because he doesn't bring drugs into the jail.

Kirkland appeared in bond court Wednesday morning, when his bond was set at $165,000.

"I do think that this poses a significant threat to the community in general and based on his role as an authority figure and his role to protect the members of the Palm Beach County jail and the fact that he was electing to bring drugs in there, I think, is completely egregious," assistant state attorney Diva O'Bryan told the judge.

Kirkland's defense attorney, Paul Walsh, told the judge that his client served 20 years in the U.S. Marines and has been employed with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office for six years.

Defense attorney Paul Walsh in bond court with Karl Kirkland, corrections deputy
Defense attorney Paul Walsh says Karl Kirkland, a corrections deputy with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, served 20 years in the U.S. Marines.

The judge set Kirkland's bond at $165,000. If he is released, Kirkland will be required to remain on house arrest.

Gutierrez's bond has been set at $11,000.

"The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office holds its employees to the highest standards and never forgets about its duty to preserve the public's trust," sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera said in a statement. "Unfortunately, sometimes an employee makes a bad decision which leads to misconduct."

Both deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave.