- Associated Press - Monday, April 11, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A guard at a Kansas lockup for federal detainees is among seven people accused of scheming to smuggle methamphetamines, synthetic marijuana and alcohol into the site, at times making the exchanges during drug-treatment programs and church services, a federal prosecutor alleged Monday.

The charges announced by U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom offer a glimpse inside the Leavenworth Detention Center where he said inmates talked of getting “blistered” - a slang term for high - on drugs and resembling “zombies.” The coveted contraband there was pricy, Grissom said, noting an inmate in one telephone conversation described how a pack of cigarettes fetched $150.

The 1,126-bed lockup is run by the Corrections Corporation of America, by contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Marshals Service. It is separate from the federal prison in Leavenworth.

Authorities allege the scheme revolved around Anthon Aiono, a 28-year-old guard who is accused of receiving the contraband from an outside supplier and sneaked it into the lockup, with friends and relatives of the inmates helping move money from buyers to sellers by wire transfers and other means.

Aiono and inmates Karl Carter, 41, and Stephen Rowlette, 35, are accused of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, along with 68-year-old David Bishop and Rowlette’s mother, 59-year-old Catherine Rowlette, both of Sedalia, Missouri.

Aiono also is charged with separate felony counts of providing methamphetamine, synthetic marijuana and tobacco products to inmates. Carter and Steven Rowlette are charged with three counts apiece of possessing those items.

Steven Rowlette’s wife, Alicia Tackett, 29, also is accused of illegally providing synthetic marijuana and tobacco as part of the scheme.

Online court records do not show whether the seven defendants have attorneys. Their detention hearings are scheduled for Thursday.

Grissom says the investigation began last year after authorities learned contraband routinely was making its way into the prison.

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