Nearly 20 guards in Maryland's largest state prison conspired with inmates and people on the outside to sneak drugs, pornography and cellphones into the facility, federal prosecutors charge.
Eighteen correctional officers (COs), 35 inmates and 27 people outside the prison sneaked the contraband into Eastern Correctional Institution on Maryland's Eastern Shore, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Maryland district said. Federal indictments against all 80 people were returned on Sept. 29 and made public Wednesday.
The COs took money from inmates and outside "facilitators" and engaged in sex acts with inmates in exchange for smuggling tobacco, narcotics and cellphones into the prison, prosecutors said.
The guards abused their positions, said Gordon B. Johnson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Baltimore Division.
“Few things threaten our society more than public servants who betray their oath for personal gain,” Johnson said in a statement.
The COs inside the medium-security men's prison were paid a going rate of about $500 per package they sneaked in, officials said. They were able to bring in heroin, cocaine, MDMA, synthetic drugs like K2 and pornographic videos, prosecutors said.
While other COs were required to pass through security screenings as they entered, the COs charged with these crimes were able to hide contraband on their bodies, prosecutors said. Then, they stashed the items throughout the prison's East and West Compounds, in cells, offices and "stash" locations.
The indictments allege that COs warned inmates when their cells would be searched and told inmates when fellow inmates had provided information to prison administrators. Inmates in on the contraband scheme attacked inmates who reported misconduct, and stabbed inmates in two separate incidents, prosecutors said.
Each of the 80 defendants faces as much as 20 years in prison on charges of racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute drugs.
On Wednesday, state and federal officials simultaneously searched the cells of more than 30 inmates charged in the scheme.