Federal law enforcement officials have reported the arrest of 46 correctional officers, both current and former, in nine Georgia prisons. The arrests were the result of a two-year undercover sting operation which originally focused on smuggling cell phones. The FBI had been alerted to the fact that guards were acquiring illegal cell phones for inmates who used them to commit crimes from behind bars, such as money laundering and identity theft. By the time the nine facilities were raided on Thursday, FBI agents had uncovered a much wider web of corruption than they had originally thought possible.
The 46 officers have been charged with crimes ranging from bribe-taking to drug-trafficking, says John Horn, US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. Corruption, Horn says, reached “staggering” levels within the Georgia Department of Corrections. Drug-deals occurred on both sides of the prison walls for the profit of the accused officers. Multiple kilos of cocaine and meth were trafficked across the state of Georgia for thousands of dollars in bribe money.
Five members of an elite squad, the Cobra unit, were arrested in the raids. These officers were mandated to end drug dealing and stop the trade of contraband in prisons and instead were found to have facilitated it.
“Our work is nowhere near finished, these are systemic problems,” Horn added.