BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Federal investigators believe more than half of the corrections officers at the Baltimore City jail helped inmates smuggle in contraband. A new set of officers has just been indicted.
Rochelle Ritchie has been combing through the shocking allegations in this investigation.
The total number currently stands at 44 Black Guerrilla Family gang members and their associates indicted on federal charges; 27 of those are correctional officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center.
The affidavit reads like a box office film: correctional officers smuggling drugs in their private parts, some of them prostituting themselves out to inmates and members of the Black Guerrilla Family charging non-BGF gang members rent to live in the jail and even watch TV.
The investigation into the Baltimore City Detention Center led to the indictment of 19 additional people, 14 of them correctional officers.
The jailhouse saga started back in April when 13 guards and several inmates were indicted on federal racketeering and conspiracy charges.
Tavon White, a former inmate and named leader of the BGF gang, pleaded guilty to using correctional guards to help run his lucrative drug operations while behind bars.
The affidavit shows the feds are now getting a clearer picture of the illegal happenings in jail with 14 anonymous cooperators, who witnessed the intimidation and criminal activity first-hand.
“People are going to do significant time in federal prison because they are involved in this conspiracy,” said Rod Rosenstein, Maryland U.S. Attorney.
A former correctional officer says 50 percent or more of the officers smuggled contraband into BCDC, some concealing the drugs and cell phones in food in their clothing.
One CO reportedly smuggled marijuana by hiding it in her private parts.
Percocet is also a popular drug of choice. On the streets, the affidavit says the pills go for $5 a pop; behind bars $50 a piece. Ninety pills an easy $4,500.
According to the U.S. Attorney, the lack of professionalism at the detention center only contributes to the violence on the street.
“Gang issues that we are fighting in the street don’t end when the gang members are sent behind bars. In some cases it may even be exacerbated,” Rosenstein said.
State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein released this statement regarding the indictments:
“Today’s indictments are part of everyone’s continued efforts to promote integrity at Maryland’s jails and prisons. As a member of the Prison Task Force, which is comprised of multiple federal and state law enforcement partners, I want to thank U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein and his team for their tremendous work in the investigation and prosecution of corrupt correctional officers and defendants housed at the Baltimore City Detention Center.
“I would also like to commend Governor O’Malley and Secretary Maynard for the many important steps – including launching the City Corrections Investigative Unit this spring in conjunction with my Office – that they have taken on behalf of the State of Maryland to continue their crackdown on corruption and improve safety and security at correctional institutions throughout the State. Our collaborative and sustained efforts have been, and will continue to be, successful in combatting corruption and improving security at correctional institutions in Baltimore and across the State.”
A union rep for the guards says the hiring process has to change.
“They need to do more extensive background checks and more training in the academy,” said Archer Blackwell, union representative.
AFSCME, which represents correctional officers, released this statement:
“No one depends more on the integrity of a correctional officer for their personal safety than a fellow officer. AFSCME members are deeply troubled by today’s indictments. We will continue to work with Division of Corrections officials and elected leaders to review every facet of our work to improve and protect public safety for all,” Patrick Moran, President, AFSCME Maryland, Council 3.
A corrupt officer now off the job told investigators he or she made $10,000-$15,0000 a week from pushing contraband.
According to another cooperator listed in the affidavit, 95 percent of all the working men are BGF gang members.
“It’s certainly possible that additional correctional officers can be charged in this case or in other cases,” Rosenstein said.
Of the latest correctional officers indicted Thursday, two of them are supervisors.
If convicted, the correctional officers face up to 20 years in federal prison.
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