A federal grand jury in Maryland indicted 13 corrections officers
in a drug-trafficking and money-laundering scheme that authorities said resulted in a national urban gang essentially taking over a Baltimore jail.
Federal prosecutors allege the illicit deals involved cash payments, sex, and access to fancy cars, the Washington Post reported, and the indictment described a jailhouse seemingly out of control.
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The corrections officers, all of them women, were charged with federal racketeering. Twelve members of the gang, called the Black Guerrilla Family, were also named in the indictment.
According to the indictment, four of the corrections officers
got pregnant by one inmate, Tavon White. Additionally, two other corrections officers had tattoos of White's name.
White explained the scheme to someone on the outside during a Jan. 5 recorded phone call.
"This is my jail. You understand that? I’m dead serious," White said, according to an FBI press release. "I make every final call in this jail . . . And nothing go past me, everything come to me."
Guards reportedly allowed White and gang leaders to maintain control in the prison by smuggling in cell phones, prescription pills, and other contraband items.
In addition to the racketeering charge, the 25 defendants were also charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute drugs. Twenty of them were also charged with money laundering conspiracy.
"Correctional officers were in bed with BGF inmates, in violation of the first principle of prison management," U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement. "Preventing prison corruption requires intensive screening at prison entrances and punishment for employees who consort with inmates or bring cell phones and drugs into correctional facilities."
The profits from the jailhouse network went to a diamond ring for one of the impregnated guards and luxury cars, including a Mercedes-Benz and a BMW, which the four impregnated officers were allowed to drive, according to the indictment.
"This investigation revealed the pervasive nature of prison corruption in Baltimore City’s Detention Centers," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt. "In this case, the inmates literally took over ‘the asylum,’ and the detention centers became safe havens for the BGF. Such a situation cannot be tolerated."
More than 170 agents and officers assisted in Tuesday's arrests and search warrants, according to the FBI. One defendant was killed in a robbery several hours before the indictment was filed.
Vogt addressed the diversion of crucial investigative resources.
"Law enforcement should not have to concern itself with criminal subjects who have already been arrested and relegated to detention centers," he said.
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