Fentanyl trafficking charge dismissed in woman's plea to tampering count

May 3—A woman accused of swallowing a bag containing 2 grams of fentanyl during a strip search at the Jasper County Jail had a drug trafficking count dismissed this week in a plea deal on related evidence-tampering and assault charges.

Markie L. Harper, 33, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Jasper County Circuit Court to a felony count of tampering with physical evidence and a misdemeanor count of assaulting a jail corrections officer by biting her when she tried to stop the defendant from swallowing the bag.

Her plea deal with the prosecutor's office dismissed the trafficking count and called for a suspended imposition of sentence on the tampering conviction and a $1,000 fine for the assault. Circuit Judge David Mouton accepted the plea arrangement and placed Harper on supervised probation for five years with a $1,000 fine.

The defendant was arrested Aug. 22 in Carthage on a city charge of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia following a traffic stop in which an officer purportedly saw her trying to hide the paraphernalia under a seat.

A probable-cause affidavit states that she was taken directly to the county jail, where a corrections officer saw her remove a bag from her bra and pop it in her mouth. The officer tried to keep her from swallowing it and Harper bit her, according to the affidavit. She subsequently admitted to jail staff that the bag contained 2 grams of fentanyl, according to the affidavit.