13 Corrections Officers Indicted in Md., Accused of Aiding Gang’s Drug Scheme

Anne E. Marimow and John Wagner, Washington Post, April 23, 2013

More than a dozen Maryland state prison guards helped a dangerous national gang operate a drug-trafficking and money-laundering scheme from behind bars that involved cash payments, sex and access to fancy cars, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Thirteen female corrections officers essentially handed over control of a Baltimore jail to gang leaders, prosecutors said. The officers were charged Tuesday in a federal racketeering indictment.

The indictment described a jailhouse seemingly out of control. Four corrections officers became pregnant by one inmate. Two of them got tattoos of the inmate’s first name, Tavon—one on her neck, the other on a wrist.

The guards allegedly helped leaders of the Black Guerilla Family run their criminal enterprise in jail by smuggling cellphones, prescription pills and other contraband in their underwear, shoes and hair. One gang leader allegedly used proceeds to buy luxury cars, including a Mercedes-Benz and a BMW, which he allowed some of the officers to drive.

“The inmates literally took over ‘the asylum,’ and the detention centers became safe havens for BGF,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt, using shorthand for the prison gang’s name.


At the center of the investigation was an alleged leader of the Black Guerilla Family, Tavon White, who prosecutors said fathered five children with four of the corrections officers—Jennifer Owens, 31, of Randallstown; Katera Stevenson, 24, of Baltimore; Chania Brooks, 27, of Baltimore; and Tiffany Linder, 27, of Baltimore—since his incarceration on attempted murder charges in 2009.

In one wiretapped cellphone call in January, White, 36, of Baltimore, told an acquaintance: “This is my jail. You understand that? I’m dead serious. I make every final call in this jail.”

The prison guards were among 25 defendants, including inmates and outside suppliers, charged with racketeering and drug conspiracy. Twenty of the defendants are also charged in a money-laundering conspiracy. {snip}


In one instance, prosecutors described Officer Jasmin Jones allegedly standing guard outside a closet while Officer Kimberly Dennis had sex with inmate Derius Duncan.


Corrections officers also allegedly warned inmates about impending searches of cells, according to prosecutors. In January, White spread the word to other inmates in a cellphone call recorded by law enforcement: “I just got a message saying that they was going to pull a shakedown tonight. Let me call all these dudes in my phone and let them know.”

In prison, prosecutors said, White bragged about earning $16,000 during a slow month. Percocet pills that cost $10 outside the prison walls, for instance, went for three times as much behind bars. One-gram bags of marijuana sold for $50, a profit of about $1,000 per ounce, according to court documents.


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