- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 12, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A recent sweep of a Nebraska prison uncovered alcohol, weapons, a smartphone and a significant amount of illegal drugs, prison officials said Tuesday.

Officials conducted a thorough search of the Nebraska State Penitentiary after finding drugs, a smartphone and three weapons in a cell.

The search uncovered homemade, knifelike weapons and homemade alcohol. Authorities checked all shop areas as well as windows and door frames in housing units, because the drugs recovered had been hidden inside a window’s steel casing, said Department of Correctional Services spokeswoman Dawn-Renee Smith.

Smith said roughly 60 staff members searched the facility between Aug. 29 and Sept. 1.

Corrections Department Director Scott Frakes said a new centralized intelligence teams is helping officials respond more proactively.

“Contraband in prison is dangerous and puts staff and inmates at risk,” Frakes said.

Nebraska State Patrol spokesman Cody Thomas said his agency is investigating the case, but declined to provide further details. Smith declined to provide details on what drugs were confiscated, citing the investigation.

“What we typically find in prison is quantities that are for individual use,” she said. “In this case the amount was significant, which suggests it would be sold to others.”

Nebraska’s prison system has faced other unusual contraband cases.

Corrections officials said an uprising in March that left two inmates dead at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution began because inmates were angry that prison staffers had confiscated 150 pounds of homemade alcohol.

Administrators said the inmates made the alcohol using bread, fruit and sugar from the prison’s kitchen and stored it in watertight footlockers under their beds. Prison officials responded by replacing fresh fruit with canned fruit and more thorough searches of inmates leaving the kitchen.

The prisoner uprising came less than two years after a similar deadly riot in May 2015 that left two inmates dead and caused more than $2 million in damage.

The prisons have faced a bevy of other problems, including the June 2016 escape of two inmates. In June, an Omaha man serving time for robbery at the Tecumseh prison died from an overdose of methamphetamine and Ecstasy.

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Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter at https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte

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