A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department police interceptor vehicle.

A deputy sheriff working at the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic has been arrested by the Sheriff’s Internal Criminal Investigation Bureau for smuggling drugs into a county jail, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) records, and multiple sources within the department who spoke to LA Public Press on background. 

Michael Meiser, a four year employee of the Sheriff’s Department, was caught with narcotics and cash during a surveillance sting, according to sources within LASD familiar with the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly. County records show Meiser was arrested on the afternoon of April 30, and booked early the next morning on a felony charge level. 

“The Department’s Internal Criminal Investigation Bureau initiated an investigation into the allegations involving an employee,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement to LA Public Press. “The employee is relieved of duty pending the outcome of the case.”

The department declined to disclose what charges Meiser was booked on.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office says it has not yet been presented with a case for consideration. The Sheriff’s Department said it would present the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office “once the case is completed.” 

The arrest is part of a larger investigation into Operation Safe Jails (OSJ), a gang intelligence unit inside of the county jail system, according to three sources within LASD. Multiple department insiders speculate that the investigation could reach upper levels of department management, and that the OSJ unit may close. 

On Tuesday, Cece Woods of Malibu Global Media reported that deputies from investigative units and special assignments had been arrested for smuggling drugs to incarcerated people.

Sources familiar with the operation not authorized to speak publicly said Meiser was caught in a sting operation transporting narcotics and cash into the Pitchess Detention Center last week. The items were kept in a box inside of a department vehicle. 

Multiple sources confirmed several members of the LASD’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau also searched his personal effects at the facility. 

Operation Safe Jails has been plagued with misconduct for years. In 2012, detectives working in the unit reported their colleagues for passing information to white supremacists. During the same period, a custody assistant was caught smuggling drugs in a sting. Deputies in OSJ also participated in a scheme carried out under the orders of then Undersheriff Paul Tanaka and Sheriff Lee Baca to hide an informant from the FBI, which eventually led to their own and several others federal convictions

The Pitchess Detention Center was recently reported to be the home of a Ku Klux Klan themed deputy gang. 

The Sheriff’s Department said in its statement the arrest was part of an ongoing investigation.

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