“The inmates literally took over ‘the asylum,'” FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt said Tuesday after news broke that at least 13 Maryland state prison guards had all-but-relinquished control of a Baltimore jail to a dangerous gang.
Those 13 officers — all female — were charged Tuesday in a federal racketeering indictment, as reported by The Washington Post.
The indictment says that members of the Black Guerilla Family gang had essentially taken over the prison by “controlling many of the [correctional officers] and other employees inside [the Baltimore City Detention Center] and related prison facilities and securing their commitment as associates of the enterprise in order to obtain sex, drugs and other contraband, to maximize freedom and privileges of BGF members and associates, and to gather intelligence in order to thwart contraband interdiction initiatives and other law enforcement efforts against BGF inmates inside BCDC.”
The corrections officers became beholden to the inmates, easily smuggling in contraband “in their underwear, hair, internally, and elsewhere,” according to the indictment.
Corrections officers also carried on sexual relationships with the inmates, which “cemented the business ties and the association of the corrections officers with the enterprise.”
Those encounters sometimes led to pregnancies, with at least four officers impregnated — one of them twice — by the highest ranking gang member in the prison, Tavon White. At least two of those officers had White’s first name tattooed on their bodies.
In a phone call intercepted by the FBI, White explained his power in the facility:
“This is my jail. You understand that? I’m dead serious… I make every final call in this jail, … and nothing go past me, everything comes to me… Any of my brothers that deal with anybody, it’s gonna come to me. You see what I am saying? Everything comes to me. Everything. Before a mother-f—– hit a n—– in the mouth, guess what they do, they gotta run it through me. I tell them whether it’s a go ahead, and they can do it or whether they hold back. Before a mother-f—– stab somebody, they gotta run it through me… Anything that get done must go through me.”
White provided at least three of the officers with cars to drive, including a white Mercedes Benz, a black Mercedes Benz and an Acura.
The officers delivered cell phones, prescription drugs, marijuana and even punishments, depending on what the gang requested.
“It’s totally on me. I don’t make any excuses,” said Gary D. Maynard, who runs Maryland’s prison system and was appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley, according to the Washington Post. “We will move up the chain of command, and people will be held accountable.”
“A spokesman said late Tuesday that all of the officers have been suspended without pay and that the department will recommend that they be fired,” the Post reported.
The 13 prison guards are among 25 total defendants in the case, with many of the defendants reportedly facing 20-year sentences for racketeering and drug conspiracy.