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Press Release

Gulf Shores Attorney Sentenced to Four Months in Prison for Smuggling Spice to a Federal Inmate at the Monroe County Detention Center

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Alabama

MOBILE, AL – A Gulf Shores man was sentenced to four months in prison for illegally smuggling paper soaked in “spice,” a synthetic cannabinoid, to a federal inmate at the Monroe County Detention Center.

According to court documents, Michael Leonides Santos, 36, was arrested on February 18, 2022, after corrections officers seized papers from a federal inmate that were soaked with spice. The inmate had just met with Santos, a practicing attorney, in a visiting room at the jail. As reflected on surveillance video, Santos handed the soaked papers to the inmate, who then leaned down and placed them in his socks. Following the incident, federal agents arrived at the jail and searched Santos’s vehicle, finding prepackaged baggies containing tobacco, phones, charging cables, and other items consistent with contraband smuggling.

Agents also seized a contraband cell phone from the inmate. On the phone, agents recovered numerous text messages linking Santos to contraband smuggling.
Between November 2021 and February 2022, the inmate also exchanged several monitored “Chirp” text messages with Santos and others. In those messages, the inmate discussed smuggling spice into the jail, how to package the contraband and give it to Santos, and how much profit the inmate could make by distributing spice inside the jail. In a December 2021 message, the inmate asked Santos to visit the jail and offered assurances that “they don’t look into that.”

In addition to the four-month prison sentence, United States District Judge Kristi K. DuBose ordered Santos to serve a one-year term of supervised release upon his release from prison, during which time he will receive substance abuse testing and treatment. The court imposed a $200 fine and ordered Santos to pay $25 in special assessments.

As part of his plea agreement in this case, Santos is barred from any further representation of criminal defendants in any United States jurisdiction, including but not limited to any federal, state, local, or municipal courts.

U.S. Attorney Sean P. Costello of the Southern District of Alabama made the announcement.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Roller prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

Updated December 5, 2023