SAN QUENTIN (KPIX 5) — A Los Angeles woman is in a Bay Area jail for allegedly trying to sneak phones and heroin into San Quentin to a friend on death row.

Authorities say somehow Teri Nichols managed to get through a metal detector. An investigation is underway to find out how she got through multiple layers of security inside the prison.

Thursday, the 47- year-old was visiting Bruce Millsap, an inmate sitting on death row. He has been convicted of eight murders in Southern California.

The pair was visiting when a guard noticed a ziplock bag in the trash.

“Inconsistent with things that we allow individuals to purchase out of our vending machines,” said Lt. Sam Robinson.

Nichols and Millsap were separated and she allegedly confessed. Prison officials found 18 smartphones, chargers and 84 grams of heroin inside Nichols’s clothing.

“There have been some indications that she may have looked pregnant coming into the visiting room and subsequently when she removed all the items, she was no longer pregnant,” said Robinson.

To get into the plexiglass visiting room visitors must go through metal detectors and their personal effects must be scanned, just like at the airport.

“She was able to get all those items through there,” said Robinson. “We’re evaluating how exactly she did that and what exactly came into play that all of the mechanisms we have in place did not catch a substantial amount of things.”

Officials tell KPIX 5 that contraband inside San Quentin is nothing new. Cellphones are selling for a $1,000 apiece among inmates.

As far as drugs, there have been several non-fatal overdoses in the prison and on death row in recent years.

“It’s the lifeblood of the gang culture inside the prison – it’s what drives a lot of drama and anguish for the people who are here,” said Robinson.

Nichols is a special education teaching assistant in the L.A. Unified School District.

She is now facing the possibility of up to four years in prison.

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