BALTIMORE — Prosecutors said Tuesday that 25 Maryland corrections tactical unit officers have been indicted on hundreds of counts related to using excessive force, intimidation and destruction of evidence to ensure “dominance of its operational territory” across state corrections facilities.
The indictment outlines a “criminal enterprise,” operating inside the state’s corrections system, and includes leaders of the tactical unit. Prosecutors said they have identified 25 incarcerated victims. Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said the operation involved guards and personnel. She said the charges range from participation in a criminal gang to misconduct in office.
Mosby said the indicted officers were in charge of responding to incidents and maintaining order in jail facilities, but instead abused their positions in pursuit of maintaining their criminal enterprise.
While the investigation into the unit began in 2018, authorities ultimately found criminal acts dating back to 2016, Mosby said.
In a release, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services wrote the investigation found “multiple instances where detainees at different facilities were allegedly treated improperly.”
Mosby said some of the defendants face first-degree assault charges. The 25 officers face a total of 236 criminal charges and some officers face up to 150 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
The department wrote that all of the officer were placed on administrative leave prior to the charges and will be suspended without pay until the ends of their trials.
In a statement, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan touted the arrests as the result of the states “anti-corruption actions.”
“We are again making clear that we have absolutely no tolerance whatsoever for corruption of any kind in our state prison system or anywhere else in state government,” Hogan wrote.
The Baltimore jail became notorious in 2013 when federal prosecutors indicted 25 people, including corrections officers, in a smuggling scheme. Prosecutors said the Black Guerrilla Family had gained control behind bars and turned the jail into a gang stronghold.
Tuesday’s announcement brings the latest case by authorities trying to crack down on rampant corruption in Maryland’s 24 prisons and detention centers. Nearly 200 people — guards, inmates, civilian accomplices — have been indicted in prison corruption cases across Maryland over the past four years, state prison officials said earlier this year.
In April, federal authorities had arrested 19 people — including three prison guards — and charged them with running a smuggling ring at the state’s medium-security prison in Jessup. They allegedly smuggled inside heroin, cellphones and pornography-loaded flash drives in exchange for sex and wire payments.
In January 2018, 18 people — including two guards — were charged with smuggling heroin, cocaine and cellphones into the nearby maximum-security prison at Jessup. A yearlong wiretap investigation led authorities to that smuggling ring. The guards were sentenced to serve three years in prison.
Two months before that case, officials arrested and imprisoned a sergeant who worked at the prison and who they say ran the Crips street gang inside the walls. He pleaded guilty to state charges of participating in a criminal gang.
And in October 2016, federal agents indicted 80 people in the largest prison corruption case in Maryland history. Corrections officers and inmates were charged with smuggling heroin, cocaine, cellphones and pornography into the Eastern Correctional Institution in Somerset County on the Eastern Shore. Seventy-seven people were convicted, officials said, including 16 correctional officers who were sentenced to as much as six years in prison.
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