More than a dozen Maryland state correctional officers were accused Tuesday of helping a powerful prison gang run a drug-trafficking and money-laundering operation from behind bars.
Thirteen female prison guards were charged by the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office in an indictment unsealed Tuesday in federal court. They allegedly smuggled into the prison cell phones, prescription pills and other contraband uncovered during a year-long corruption investigation of state detention facilities.
“The inmates literally took over ‘the asylum,’ and the detention centers became safe havens for BGF,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt said, using shorthand for the prison gang, Black Guerilla Family.
At the center of the investigation was an alleged leader of the gang, Tavon White, who prosecutors said had sexual relationships with at least four of the prison guards, fathering five children since his incarceration in Baltimore in 2009.
In one wiretapped cell phone call in January, White told an acquaintance, “This is my jail. You understand that? I’m dead serious. I make every final call in this jail.”
The indictment, which also charged seven inmates and five co-conspirators, outlined the enduring power of gangs within some Maryland detention facilities as well as a highly organized and profitable smuggling enterprise. While in prison, White bragged about earning $16,000 during a slow month, and he used the money to buy several luxury cars, including a Mercedes Benz and a BMW, prosecutors said.
According to an affidavit unsealed Tuesday, prison gang leaders strategically recruited female prison guards and other inmates to smuggle, deliver and pick up payments throughout the Baltimore City Detention Center and several connected facilities, including the Baltimore Central Booking Intake Center.
Gary D. Maynard, head of the state agency that oversees the prisons, said at a press conference in Baltimore that his department would vigorously review its policies, including the screening of employees as they enter detention facilities.
“It’s totally on me. I don’t make any excuses,” he said. “It’s absolutely my responsibility.”
State Sen. Joseph M. Getty (R-Carroll), a member of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, said the revelations, coupled with a string of recent inmate killings at Maryland prisons, were “a pretty harsh indictment” of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s (D) prison policies.
“This is frightening to us as legislators, the level of collusion that has existed between the correction officers and inmates,” Getty said.
Ann E. Marimow and John Wagner
April 23, 2013
(indictment posted as attached .pdf file)
Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.