Digging Deeper into the ECI Smuggling Operation - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Digging Deeper into the ECI Smuggling Operation

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Eastern Correctional Institution. (Photo: WBOC) Eastern Correctional Institution. (Photo: WBOC)

SOMERSET COUNTY, Md. - The two indictments that charge 80 people for a racketeering conspiracy operating at the Eastern Correctional Institution detail a smuggling operation that was fueled by money, sex, and violence.

18 correctional officers, 35 inmates, and 27 outside facilitators were all named in a federal indictment released to the public on Wednesday.  The two indictments, which cover the east and west compounds and those involved in those two sections of the prison, detail the smuggling operation, including how the drugs, cell phones, and other contraband made its way into the ECI.

The indictments state that inmates would talk with the facilitators outside of ECI about how to get the contraband to the COs.  In the indictment, one example details an inmate telling a facilitator that the contraband should be packaged to fit into a P.O. box.  Another example details an inmate telling a facilitator to rent the biggest P.O. box available and to leave one key in the box so a CO could retrieve the contraband.

According to the two indictments, the COs were mostly responsible for bringing the contraband into ECI.  The indictment states that COs would sometimes go to their cars during their breaks and bring the contraband back in with them when their break was over.

Among the contraband brought into the prison were cell phones, which were an integral part of the whole illegal operation inside ECI.  The contraband cell phones were not only used to arrange pickups and deliveries with COs and facilitators, but to also send money electronically through PayPal while inside the prison.

From the indictment of the east compound, one example provided the details a $500 bribe being sent by an inmate to a CO through PayPal.  Inmates would also sent facilitators and COs money through Western Union.

The indictment also states that some COs involved had sex with inmates in exchange for contraband.  One section of the indictment reads "these sexual relationships cemented the smuggling and trafficking relationship between the COs and inmates."

The indictments also provide examples that show how violence was used against inmates if anyone tried to speak up, or "rat," about the operation.  The indictment provides an example where a CO orders an inmate to be stabbed after the inmate filed a complaint against the CO which had him removed from his position in a particular housing unit at ECI.

The indictments states the "going rate" for COs bringing in contraband was about $500 per package.  However, the inmates were making plenty of money as well.  The federal indictment states that some drugs were sold at 15 times higher than their purchase price.  Also, the indictments provides an example of one inmate who believed he could earn $50,000 being part of this operation before he was released from ECI.

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