Reporting Rochelle Ritchie
BALTIMORE (WJZ)— A major gang bust is made inside Baltimore City’s jail system.
It was a brazen scheme to smuggle drugs and cell phones into Baltimore jails. More than two dozen people face federal charges, including corrections officers, some of whom got pregnant by the same inmate.
Rochelle Ritchie has more on the case involving the notorious Black Guerrilla Family gang.
It’s a jailhouse soap opera involving drugs, sex and money between corrections officers and inmates. The operation was brought down by tapped cell phones.
Twenty-five people now face federal charges after being part of one of the largest gang-operated criminal enterprises seen at the Baltimore City Detention Center.
“These 25 defendants participated in running the activities of the Black Guerrilla Family from behind bars in Baltimore City,” said Rod Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney.
Thirteen female corrections officers, seven inmates and five alleged co-conspirators are charged with racketeering, money laundering and possession with the intent to distribute. Officials say all 13 have been suspended without pay and the department is moving to fire them.
The affidavit says the corrections officers helped members of the notorious Black Guerrilla Family gang smuggle cell phones, marijuana, prescription pills and cigarettes into the jail to sell to other inmates and make thousands of dollars.
“This situation enabled BGF members to continue to run their criminal enterprise within the jail and the streets of Baltimore,” said Steve Vogt, FBI.
Corrections officers hid the contraband in their shoes. Unlike other facilities in Maryland, Baltimore City does not require employees to remove their shoes when going through screening.
“We are committed to ensuring that this activity does not happen again,” said Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein.
The ringleader of it all, according to the indictment, is Tavon White, a four-year inmate charged with attempted murder. He reportedly made $16,000 in one month off the smuggled contraband.
Four corrections officers–Jennifer Owens, Katera Stevenson, Chania Brooks and Tiffany Linder, who are also facing charges–allegedly became impregnated by White since he’s been in jail.
Charging documents reveal Owens had “Tavon” tattooed on her neck and Stevenson had “Tavon” tattooed on her wrist.
The indictment seeks the forfeiture of $500,000 and other proceeds of the enterprise, including luxury automobiles.
White allegedly gave Owens a diamond ring and luxury cars to Owens, Stevenson and Brooks.
Secretary Gary Maynard is taking full responsibility.
“It becomes embarrassing for me when we expose ourselves and we participate in an investigation that’s going to show what’s going on in our jails that I am not proud of,” Maynard said.
Despite Tuesday’s takedown, Baltimore City police call members of the BGF gang a spreading cancer that they will continue to find and prosecute.
“We will be relentless in driving them into the ground,” said Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.
As a result of the investigation, Maynard says policy and security changes are forthcoming.
The BGF has been a dominating gang in Maryland detention facilities since 2006.