New indictments released in alleged racketeering conspiracy at state's largest jail

New indictments released in alleged racketeering conspiracy at state's largest jail (File photo)

BALTIMORE (WBFF) - New indictments have been released in connection with a widespread racketeering conspiracy at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover, Somerset County.

The Department of Justice announced superseding indictments against six correctional officers, four inmates and four "outside facilitators," according to a news release. The case originally came up last year.

The indictments claim the officers smuggled contraband - including drugs, cell phones, pornographic DVDs and tobacco - into the institution, which is the largest state prison in Maryland, from 2014 until 2016, according to the news release.

The "going rate" for smuggled contraband was $500 per package, although some officers charged more and some charged less, according to the allegations.

Inmates were able to use contraband cell phones to pay correctional officers directly by PayPal.

Defendents also conspired to smuggle and traffic in drugs, including marijuana and synthetic marijuana, the narcotic Suboxone and other contraband, according to the allegations.

The new indictments were released on Tuesday, and announced by Acting United States 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 Public Safety and Correctional Services.

According to the superseding indictments, the Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI) is the largest state prison in Maryland, operating since 1987 near Westover, in Somerset County, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. ECI is a medium-security prison for men built as two identical compounds (East and West) on 620 acres, and housing more than 3,300 inmates. The East and West Compounds are further divided into Housing Units, 1 through 4 in the West and 5 through 8 in the East.

The first superseding indictment covers the West Compound at ECI and charges 6 defendants, including 2 COs, 1 ECI inmate, and 3 outside suppliers or “facilitators.” The second indictment covers the East Compound at ECI and charges 8 defendants, including 4 COs, 2 ECI inmates and 2 facilitators.

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