Baltimore City Detention Center

This story reads like an episode of HBO’s “Oz.” More than a dozen Maryland correctional officers and 25 gang-members were indicted Tuesday for federal racketeering. The officers – who are all women – allegedly assisted the Black Guerilla Family’s profitable drug-trafficking and money-laundering operation.

The Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges the officers smuggled cell phones, prescription pills and other illegal contraband into the Baltimore City Detention Center in exchange for lucrative gifts including luxury cars and diamond rings. The Black Guerilla Family also used their prison enterprise to support illegal activity outside of the jail.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt told the Washington Post “the inmates literally took over ‘the asylum,’ and the detention centers became safe havens for BGF.” The indictment claims the operation was initiated in 2009 and several crimes were committed including extortion, assault and obstruction of justice.

The authorities believe 36-year-old Tavon White is the mastermind of the illegal business. Prison phones captured him telling someone, “This is my jail. I’m dead serious … I make every final call in this jail … and nothing go past me, everything come to me.”

White was also spreading his love to the women officers. He impregnated at least four of the guards resulting in the birth of five children since 2009. Two of those officers have “Tavon” inked on their bodies in visible locations.

The Washington Post reports:

The indictment, unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, puts the spotlight on the enduring power of gangs in jails and prisons. In particular, prosecutors were highly critical of Maryland’s facilities in Baltimore, with procedures and personnel that were “completely inadequate to prevent smuggling” and lacked “effective punishment.”

The Black Guerilla Family was founded in California in the 1960s but now operates nationwide in prisons and on the streets of major U.S. cities, including Baltimore. It arrived in Maryland’s prison system in the 1990s, according to the Justice Department, and is increasingly involved in narcotics trafficking, robbery, assault and homicides. By 2006, federal authorities say, the BGF had become the dominant gang at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

The indictment spotlights the lack of control officials have over prisons. Gary D. Maynard, Secretary of Maryland’s Public Safety and Correctional Services, takes full blame for not stopping this ring sooner.

“It’s totally on me. I don’t make any excuses,” he said in a press conference. “It’s absolutely my responsibility.”

He continued, “Ninety-nine percent of our correctional officers do their jobs with integrity, honesty and respect. Today’s indictment along with those in the past shows that our department will not stand idly by and let a few bad actors affect the security of our institutions.”

The 25 members charged with racketeering are facing 20 years in prison.

I hope Law & Order addresses this outrageous case in a future episode. It must be captured on television.

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