- The Washington Times - Friday, April 17, 2009

BALTIMORE | The Black Guerrilla Family smuggled drugs, weapons, cell phones and champagne into Maryland prisons, and gang members continued to operate the drug ring from behind bars, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

The U.S. attorney’s office announced indictments against two dozen people associated with the gang, which prosecutors said is active in prisons nationwide. The 16 men and eight women include corrections officers who helped smuggle contraband, prosecutors said.

U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said more than 100 law enforcement officers executed 13 federal search warrants and seized evidence from 16 cells in six facilities. The investigation included wiretaps on contraband prison cell phones, the U.S. attorney said.

While inmates have always been cautious about using prison phones, Mr. Rosenstein said they have not been as concerned about smuggled cell phones.

“We want the inmates to know that we also can listen in on their cell-phone calls,” the federal prosecutor said.

The gang is active in a number of Maryland prisons, including the North Branch Correctional Institution, Western Correctional Institution, Eastern Correctional Institution, Roxbury Correctional Institution, Maryland Correctional Institution Jessup, Maryland Correctional Institution Hagerstown, Baltimore City Correctional Center and the Metropolitan Transition Center in Baltimore, prosecutors said.

A former and a current corrections officer at the Metropolitan Transition Center were among those charged, as well as a kitchen employee there. A corrections officer at the Jessup prison also was indicted.

Each of the 24 defendants was charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and faces up to 20 years in prison. Some also face life in prison on more serious charges, prosecutors said.

Three Baltimore BGF members, two of whom are still at large, are accused of the armed robbery of a drug dealer and face life in prison on firearms and drug charges, said Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office.

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