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One arrested, two on the run after trying to break into Orleans Parish jail

Sheriff's Office says men hoped to bring drugs and other contraband into the jail

One man is in custody and two others remain on the run after they tried to break into the Orleans Parish jail Monday night, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Deputies found several packages of drugs and other contraband the men were trying to sneak into the jail through a yard.

The plan unraveled about 10 p.m. when deputies saw a man walk up to the jail’s wall and climb over it. Captain Jerry Martin said deputies spotted the men on a jail surveillance camera and immediately sent deputies to the spot of the attempted breach.

“After receiving that information, our response team, within seconds, made it downstairs in an effort to apprehend those subjects,” Martin said.

He said the men abandoned their attempt to scale the wall, trying to escape along Perdido Street. New Orleans Police officers responded to the scene and apprehended one of the three suspects.

The sheriff’s office is still trying to determine how the suspects were planning to deliver the contraband to the inmates, who don’t have access to the yard just inside the wall, Martin said.

Nicholas Celius, 23, was booked with possession of cocaine, heroin and marijuana, as well as resisting an officer. The Sheriff’s Office said he carried a backpack that included marijuana, crack cocaine and heroin. The crack was listed as “13 small rock-like pieces,” while the heroin was described as a “small amount of powder.”

Celius appeared in magistrate court late Tuesday and is currently being held without bail on an arrest warrant from Texas.

His two unknown accomplices remained on the run Tuesday. Martin said the Sheriff’s Office and NOPD have launched a joint investigation to try and identify the other two suspects.

In the past, the parish jail has been plagued with contraband smuggling. Everything from drugs to cell phones to weapons have been confiscated from inmates. More than a dozen deputies have been arrested over the past 10 years for helping to bring the contraband into the jail.

Martin said new security systems have helped stem the flow of contraband. The biggest improvements are cameras and other safeguards built into the 1,438-bed Orleans Justice Center, which opened in 2015 to replace the dilapidated Orleans Parish Prison, a sprawling complex once made up of several separate lock-ups.

“The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office will continue to aggressively combat the constant efforts of individuals to introduce narcotics into the jail,” Sheriff Marlin Gusman said in a prepared statement. “We appreciate the diligence of our staff to detect this latest threat, as well as the quick response of the New Orleans Police Department.”