About four dozen current and retired state prison guards were arrested and charged with bribery and distribution of drugs after a series of raids across the state of Georgia on Thursday morning.
The Federal Indictments were unsealed in Atlanta, and are part of a continuing probe to crackdown on contraband cell phones and drugs being brought into prisons across the state.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution cited recent reports that indicate cell phones continue to be used by inmates to commit crimes while they are locked up.
The new indictments allege corruption by guards from the Baldwin, Dooly, Hancock, Macon, Phillips and Pulaski state prisons. Arrests were made in the Department of Corrections’ tactical team, where five of their officers were busted from the very unit that works to rid prisons of contraband and control riots.
According to one of the eight indictments, guards believed they were providing protection to a Locust Grove-area drug dealer who was transporting pounds of cocaine and methamphetamine. In return for that protection, the indictment states that the guards received thousands of dollars in bribes.
In coverage Thursday from WSB-TV2 in Atlanta, five officers were arrested in January by the Department of Corrections Office of Professional Standards and the FBI. The Bureau set up an undercover sting, that brought this week’s indictment of 46 current and retired officers.
The biggest sweep of the day was at the Dooly State Prison, near Unadilla, Georgia, in the south-central part of the state. The 1700-bed facility was raided at dawn and investigators tossed the prison looking for drugs, weapons cell phones and other contraband.
Assistant Commissioner of Corrections Timothy Ward, told WSB-TV2 “this war on cell phones, we’re taking it very seriously and we’re going to continue to root out cell phones and all the corruption in the state of Georgia in the prison system.”
There has been a successful and on-going scam from inside prisons, where inmates would call people and advise them that they have to pay a fine for avoiding jury duty. That money eventually worked its way back to a prison account for each inmate. Those calls were reportedly made with cell phones that were smuggled in.
Only three weeks ago on January 21, the prison system cracked down at Autry State Prison with a tactical sweep of the prison that resulted in 51 arrests, including 15 current or former guards.
At the time, the U.S. Attorney for Northern Georgia, John Horn, told WSB-TV 2 “It just makes no sense that where prison is supposed to remove people from the community and protect the community from those inmates.” He added, “That these inmates are continuing their victimization from behind bars.”
Rob Milford is a reporter for Breitbart Texas. You can follow him on Twitter @milford_rob.