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Correctional Officers Swept Up In Rikers Island Drug Raid

An “unprecedented joint, tactical search” led to the arrests of two guards and 20 inmates. More are on the way.

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By Shawn Dwyer

06/25/14

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On Tuesday, two correctional officers and 20 inmates were arrested in what has been called an “unprecedented” crackdown on smuggling drugs into one of the world’s most infamous prisons, Rikers Island. Ten more correctional officers are expected to face charges.

“This massive operation was necessitated by information developed during DOI’s ongoing investigation of violence and other illegal conduct on Rikers Island,” said Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters and Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte in a joint statement. “Criminal conduct in the correctional facilities will not be tolerated."

The two departments conducted a months-long investigation into alleged drug smuggling at the prison, and turned up drugs, weapons, and tobacco stashed inside inmates’ cells. Two guards were also caught trying to bring eight ounces of cocaine and an unspecified amount of marijuana into the prison.

The DOI launched the investigation following a series of violent incidents at Rikers that led to stepped-up scrutiny of both guards and inmates.  According to the Correction Department, there were 1,844 uses of force by corrections officers in just the first five months of this year, while there were 274 drug seizures and 868 weapons confiscated within that same time frame.

With the two arrests and 10 others pending, Commissioner Ponte was quick to point out that most of his corrections officers were “hardworking professionals.”

“Their safety, like the safety of civilian staff, inmates and visitors, demands that we maintain the highest levels of staff integrity,” he said.

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