Baltimore Prison Guards in Mass Drug Indictment

By McCarton Ackerman 04/24/13

Thirteen female guards are accused of helping gang members run a national drug ring from behind bars.

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The gangs targeted female guards with "low
self-esteem"
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Thirteen female corrections officers have been indicted for helping a national gang known as Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) run a drug-trafficking and money-laundering scheme from behind bars. The prison guards were among 25 defendants, including inmates and outside suppliers, charged with racketeering and drug conspiracy, with each of them facing a maximum sentence of 20 years for the charges. Prosecutors accused the 13 women of essentially handing over control of the jail to the gang, helping them conduct their business by smuggling cellphones, prescription drugs and other contraband in their clothing and hair. Four of the officers even became pregnant by one inmate, with two of them also getting tattoos of his first name. Affadavits for search warrants at the homes of the prison guards report that the inmates specifically looked for female officers they perceived to have "low self-esteem." “The inmates literally took over ‘the asylum,’ and the detention centers became safe havens for BGF,” says FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt. Court documents show that one-gram bags of marijuana sold behind bars for $50, a profit of about $1,000 per ounce, while Percocet pills went for triple their street value.

The indictment spotlights the power that gangs often exert in jails and prisons. Prosecutors were also highly critical of Baltimore's facilities, where they say personnel were “completely inadequate to prevent smuggling” and lacked “effective punishment.” Gary D. Maynard, head of the Maryland agency that oversees the prisons, took full responsibility for the incidents and vowed that "people will be held accountable." A spokesman confirmed yesterday that all of the officers have been suspended without pay and the department will recommend that they be fired. Maryland Gov. Martin O' Malley said in a statement yesterday: “We have zero tolerance for corruption among correctional officers, and we will continue striving to make all correctional facilities as secure as they can possibly be.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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