LICKING, Mo. — A correctional officer at the South Central Correctional Center was arrested for planning to sneak drugs inside the men’s prison and give them to an inmate.

It’s the same facility where KOLR 10 Investigates exposed a dozen men died in 2022, mostly from drug overdoses. The prison has repeatedly failed to answer how drugs are getting into the prison or provide surveillance footage despite ongoing requests.

Then on April 6, the Licking Police Department and the South Central Correctional Center’s Investigation Team concluded a long-term narcotics investigation involving a correctional officer.

Investigators found 22-year-old Paige Cook was having phone communications with an inmate outside of work. Police became suspicious that Cook was planning to sneak drugs into the prison.

Cook admitted to obtaining illegal items including drugs from the inmate’s family and was instructed to take them to the inmate. Police searched Cook’s vehicle finding multiple rolls of paper soaked in synthetic cannabinoid and a prescription pill.

She was transported to the Texas County Jail where she was booked and released. The Texas County Prosecutor’s Office is expected to charge Cook with Felony Delivery or Possession of a Controlled Substance at a Correction Center.

The Missouri Department of Corrections said Cook is no longer employed with the department. KOLR 10 Investigates is working to confirm Cook’s exact dates of employment at MDOC.