||| Nuno Monteiro | Dreamstime |||
A group of 14 defendants have been indicted with racketeering charges by a federal grand jury. The charges stem from the actions of six correctional officers, four inmates and four outside "facilitators" who operated illegally at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover. Their alleged roles varied from smuggling contraband, including drugs, tobacco and cell phones into prison in a giant racketeering scheme.
The indictments were made public after being returned on Tuesday and were announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and secretary Stephen T. Moyer of the Maryland Department of Safety and Correctional Services.
The indictments indicate Eastern Correctional Institution is the largest prison in the state of Maryland and has been operating near Westover in Somerset County for 30 years. E.C.I. is a medium security prison for men built with two identical buildings facing each other which house a collective 3,300 inmates. The indictments cover the entire facility and the people responsible for operating it in that section of the prison since the whole thing is broken down into compounds.
Prisoners could pay guards an average of $500 to smuggle a package of contraband into E.C.I but some guards charged more. The indictments indicate that inmates would pay the correctional officers with Pay Pal and then sell the drugs and cell phones they smuggled in to other inmates. Each defended could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute drugs.
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