Jail officers accused of accepting bribes, teaming with gang to bring in drugs
(CNN) — Fourteen additional past and present Baltimore corrections officers allegedly teamed up with jailed gang members to furtively bring in drugs and have sex with inmates for money, according to a federal prosecutor.
An indictment unsealed late this week, and publicized by authorities Thursday, indicated these 14 were among the 19 new people whom the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Maryland say have been charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute drugs. Six of those are also charged with money laundering conspiracy.
A total of 27 current and former corrections officers total have been charged in the same scheme, when one includes the 13 (out of 25 people in all) for which charges were announced in April. Most of this latter group since pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, among them nine correctional officers, four inmates and three drug suppliers, according to the prosecutor’s office.
It all centered around the Black Guerilla Family, a gang active in prisons nationwide and particularly dominant in the Baltimore City Detention Center, Baltimore Central Booking Intake Center, Women’s Detention Center and Jail Industries Building.
“Folks are behind bars, but they still have leadership authority,” U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein told CNN affiliate WJZ. “They are able to order things to happen out in the street. They are able to order drugs and contraband delivered to the facility.”
The end result was what Rosenstein’s office called a “criminal organization” operating inside jails “enabling (participants) to make large amounts of money through drug trafficking, robbery, assault, extortion, bribery, witness retaliation, money laundering and obstruction of justice.”
Correctional officers allegedly were “bribed” to smuggle in drugs, cell phones and other prohibited objects that they hid underneath their clothes, “inside body cavities,” even in sandwiches. Some inmates who weren’t part of the gang had to pay protection money — or more accurately, their relatives on the outside did — authorities claim.
“Court documents allege the BGF members recruited correctional officers through personal and often sexual relationships as well as bribes, and that some officers traded sex for money,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in its news release.
By Greg Botelho. CNN’s Dave Stewart contributed to this report.