- Associated Press - Monday, January 30, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Federal charges have been filed against incarcerated alleged members of the Irish Mob who are now accused of laundering money in prison.

The charges were filed against 36-year-old Nathan Hudson, 33-year-old Richard Joseph Coker, 29-year-old Christopher Paul Brown and 39-year-old Richard Lee Potts, the Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/2kKTy2W ) reported.

A 50-count indictment filed in Oklahoma City federal court this month alleges that Coker and Brown used smuggled cellphones to coordinate drug deals, arrange purchases and sales of drugs, and received prepaid debit card and internet payments.

“The individuals then had those additional conspirators provide them with the authorization numbers, thereby allowing them to, in effect, receive cash in the prison system,” the indictment alleges.

The indictment alleges the men told drug dealers and others to use prepaid debit cards and an online transfer service to deposit earnings from drug sales.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terri Watkins said the agency is trying to improve on keeping cellphones and other contraband out of state prisons.

“It’s a constant battle that we fight every day,” she said.

Recently, the agency began using a police dog certified in cellphone detection to find contraband cellphones in Oklahoma prisons. Watkins said the agency is training two more dogs to sniff out cellphones. Metal detectors have also been implemented in Oklahoma prisons.

The department confiscated 303 cellphones and 541 cellphone chargers in the past year, said Watkins.

A multiagency criminal inquiry has resulted in 28 people being criminally charged in connection to the Irish Mob drug ring, and were believed to be responsible for the trafficking of large amounts of methamphetamine and heroin in Oklahoma City. Fifteen of those people have pleaded guilty to some form of federal drug charges in the case.

The investigation into the scheme is ongoing.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com

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