Posted: Feb 28, 2013 8:21 AM
Updated: Feb 28, 2013 1:07 PM
CORPUS CHRISTI -- 17 prison guards at the McConnell unit in Beeville face federal charges of smuggling contraband to inmates. Yesterday, multiple law enforcement agencies discussed the details of "Operation Prison Cell" that led to those arrests.
"Meth involved, there was also cocaine and ecstasy," U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson said.
Those are just a few illegal items that 17 former prison guards are accused of smuggling to inmates. Magidson says this alleged corrupt conspiracy goes even further. He says along with drugs there were cell phones and cash being smuggled into the prison.
Prosecutors allege the thousands of dollars paid in the scheme were used to further the criminal acts of those already being bars at the McConnel unit.
"They were able to commit crimes through the use of these illegal cell phones and communications that the guards provided and then the people the facilitated these crimes by providing the drugs and the money that went along with this enterprise," Magidson said.
According to the indictment, the entire investigation stemmed from a routine traffic stop in Corpus Christi. Police say certain gangs were stealing trucks and taking them to Mexico.
"After that they continued the investigation it led to inmates within the prison they determined that illegal cell phone activity was occuring they were coordinating various crimes on the streets of Corpus Christi across South Texas and into other states," Magidson said.
Authorities say four years of investigation resulted in numerous arrests, but three fugitives are still at large.
"We're coming after you. This is only the start and we will find you and we will get you a new set of clothes to wear in the long run," Bruce Toney the Inspector General of the Department of Criminal Justice said.
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