Guards Busted Over Prison Cell Phone Smuggling

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on March 13, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Prison is supposed to be where inmates do their time, not do more crime.

That's what U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson had to say about the arrest of 17 former prison guards allegedly caught smuggling cell phones into the prison where they worked.

This happened in Texas. Now, the ex-corrections officers and 12 others are facing federal racketeering charges.

'Operation Prison Cell'

These charges come after a four-year investigation called "Operation Prison Cell." The investigation took place at the McConnell Unit Prison in Beeville, Texas.

Racketeering refers to many things. In this case, it's the crime of obtaining money illegally or through organized crime.

The prison guards were allegedly smuggling cell phones into the prison. As a result, inmates were able to plan and facilitate crimes such as home invasions, drug trafficking, and even homicides, investigators assert.

Prison Cell Phone Smuggling On the Rise

The reality is that prison guards have a chance to supplement their salary through these smuggling operations. A smuggled cell phone can put upwards of $2,000 in the pocket of the guard who smuggled it, investigators say.

Prison cell phone smuggling is also becoming more common nationwide. The number of cell phones seized in prisons quadrupled over a three-year period, according to a 2011 government report.

But the dangers of giving cell phones to inmates is real. And as such, the consequences are just as real, be it for those on the outside or for the guards themselves. There have been cases of inmates using cell phones to threaten witnesses and even judges, according to CNN.

Oddly enough, now those very same guards who were once smuggling goods to the inmates are finding themselves in the other side of the game. They're now inmates themselves.

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