The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 26, 2013

Female prison guards charged with smuggling drugs

Inmates were in gang

BALTIMORE — More than a dozen female correctional officers helped members of a dangerous prison gang and had sex with inmates behind bars at the Baltimore City Detention Center, according to newly released legal documents.

An indictment unsealed on Tuesday alleges that the "Black Guerilla Family" street gang -- not the state or the correctional officers -- runs the detention center.

The 25 defendants are charged with conspiring to sell drugs inside the facility.

But how could prisoners have access to marijuana, prescription drugs and money?

Investigators say the correctional officers walked right into the jail with it.

“This occurred because unlike (correctional officers) employed elsewhere in Maryland, COs in Baltimore City are not required to remove their shoes when entering a facility,” said Special Agent Steve Vogt, of the FBI.

And so, the indictment alleges that 13 female correctional officers stashed drugs and other contraband in their shoes or other containers, and delivered it to Black Guerilla Family or "BGF" members inside the jail.

Investigators say the 13 COs had sex inside the prison with gang members.  The lead defendant -- Tavon White -- is alleged to have impregnated four separate correctional officers; one of them has two of his children.

The indictment indicates BGF recruits are taught to target a specific type of correctional officer -- women with low self-esteem, insecurities and according to the indictment, "certain physical attributes.”

“Today is about a handful of correctional officers who made a series of wrong choices,” said Gary Maynard, secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

The correctional officers are also accused of "tipping off" BGF members about when searches for contraband might be happening.

Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts says the BGF is responsible for a considerable amount of violence in Baltimore City; he says arrests send a message.

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