It was a Sunday in January when a prisoner at the Manatee County jail in Florida caught the attention of the criminal officers, according to investigators. He was clearly intoxicated. The prison guards questioned him and quickly determined that he needed medical assistance. At the infirmary, the inmate confessed that he was indeed impaired and said he’d gotten high on drugs smuggled into the jail by someone he called “Granny.”
“As deputies started to talk to the inmates, one common name became familiar to all of us — that was the nickname ‘Granny,’” Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells explained during a news conference on the case. “Inmates told deputies that ‘Granny’ was bringing this contraband into the facility.”
A K-9 unit searched the inmate’s pod, where they easily discovered the smuggled drugs — a vape pen loaded with THC and delta-8. That discovery led to more searches. Along with other vape pens, the dogs and detectives also turned up eye-drop containers. But instead of eye drops, the containers held a different clear liquid — methamphetamine.
The inmates told detectives that the confiscated drugs and eye-drop containers had been smuggled in by this same mysterious presence, “Granny.” “The inmates talking to the detectives kept saying that ‘Granny’ was working in the kitchen and kept bringing contraband into the facility,” Wells told the media. “She would give the contraband to [inmate] Corey Crews, 35, who was really the ringleader of this little, illegal drug operation.”
It didn’t take long before detectives determined their Granny was Gretchen Rupprecht, a cook at the jail. She’d worked at the facility for roughly a year and a half. According to investigators, Crews also worked in the kitchen, and eventually convinced Granny to link up with a drug contact on the outside and smuggle the contraband she purchased into the jail. The going rate for a drug run and smuggling was $25.
Their setup worked well — at first. Granny allegedly brought in the drugs via her purse on four different occasions, earning a grand total of a hundred bucks for her efforts. This fact alone flabbergasted Wells. “That’s a heck of a price to pay to land in jail for a woman who is 64 years of age and has never been incarcerated before. That’s mind-blowing to me,” he marveled. “But that was a choice she made.”
Deputies arrested Rupprecht on her way to work at the jail. She immediately confessed. Along with Rupprecht and Crews, two other inmates also now face charges for smuggling contraband into the jail.
If you’re wondering why a 64-year-old woman would suddenly become a drug smuggler, detectives don’t think it had to do with the money. Instead, they say she caught feelings for Crews. “For some reason, she fell for him and wanted to help him,” Wells explained.
She’s also not alone. Just a few weeks later, a second Manatee County jail employee was arrested for the same crime. Granny’s alleged accomplice was Jena Marie Greco, 35, who detectives accused of being Granny’s plug. They also believe it was Greco who “provided Rupprecht with cash, cigarettes, vape pens and items containing a liquid form of THC.”
FWIW: Rupprecht is far from the baddest granny out there. Consider the case of the 65-year-old grandmother arrested by Homeland Security in 2020 after she attempted to smuggle 200 pounds of meth across the border. This granny seemingly believed she could drive her Dodge Durango down to Mexico, load it up with 200 pounds of meth and roll right back into the country. Police dogs detected the hidden drugs as she sat waiting at the Andrade Port of Entry in California. The estimated street value of her haul was $416,000. So we can safely assume that this granny was doing it for the loot and not for love.
Speaking of love, Rupprecht is now closer to Crews, just probably not in the way she’d hoped. Or as Wells told the press, “She thought she was doing something good for him, and now she’s sitting in the jail not too far from him.”