Baltimore Prison Scandal – Sex, Drugs & Racketeering

The Washington Post article written by Anne E. Marimow and John Wagner entitled: 13 corrections officers indicted in Md., accused of aiding gang’s drug scheme presents a shocking account of the Prisoners Running the Prison.Thirteen female correction officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center essentially turned over the facility to Tavon (a/k/a “Bulldog” and “Tay”) White, leader of the Black Guerilla Family Gang. 

On April 23, 2013, the U.S. Attorney’s Office issued a Press Release announcing that a federal grand jury returned a racketeering indictment charging 25 individuals, including 13 correctional officers with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, for conspiring to run operations of the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) gang inside correctional facilities. All 25 defendants also are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute drugs, and 20 of the defendants are charged with money laundering conspiracy.

The indictment, which was unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore listed the following charges:

  • Racketeering Conspiracy 18 U.S.C. 1962(d)
  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute Drugs 21 U.S.C. 841(a)
  • Money Laundering Conspiracy 18 U.S.C. 1959(h)
  • Aiding and Abetting 18 U.S.C. 2
  • Criminal Forfeiture 21 U.S.C. 853

The indictment described the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) as a nationwide gang operating in prisons throughout and on the streets of major cities throughout the United States. Founded in California in the 1960s, BGF appeared in the Maryland Correctional System in the 1990s. Although still a prison gang, BGF is increasingly involved in criminal activity on the streets of cities in Maryland, including narcotics trafficking, robbery, assault and murder. 

According to the U.S. Attorney, BGF became the dominant prison gang at the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC) in 2006.  The proliferation of cell phones inside of prisons enabled the gang to coordinate activities outside of the prison.  They were able to arrange for the smuggling of controlled substances and other contraband into the prison, often with the assistance of corrupt corrections officers.  The indictment described these corrupt corrections officers as members and associates of BGF.

The Indictment further reported that BGF leaders, including Tavon White, imposed a “Tax” on non-BGF inmates who smuggled contraband into the prison facilities and that a percentage of these funds were then transferred to BGF leaders outside of the facility onto Green Dot cards.

BGF members and associates used smuggled cell phones to arrange for sexual encounters, conduct the business of the enterprise (including drug trafficking) and to coordinate with members of the enterprise outside of the prison facility.

The BGF members were able to accomplish this through corrections officers who carried contraband on their persons and in containers when entering the correctional facility.  Although these officers were required to enter through the main gate where the screening takes place, officers were often able to enter through other entrances such as the one on Madison Street and passages from the JI Building, WDC and BCBIC, thereby either avoiding screening altogether or were subjected only to minimal screening when entering the facility. Female correctional officers concealed contraband in their underwear, hair, internally and elsewhere.

Perhaps most shocking was the report that BGF members and associated often had long-term sexual relationships with corrections officers who were associated with the enterprise.  These sexual relationships cemented the business ties and the association of the corrections officers with the enterprise.

According to prosecutors, gang leaders used sex and money to control the female officers. Tavon White, a top member of the Black Guerilla Family, allegedly fathered children with four of the women while imprisoned at the facility.

Investigators say all 13 female correctional officers had sex inside the prison with gang members.  The lead defendant — Tavon White — is alleged to have impregnated four separate correctional officers; one of them has two of his children. Two of the indicted female officers reportedly have tattoos bearing Tavon White’s name, who is currently awaiting trial on an attempted murder charge.

The court documents also allege that the imprisoned BGF members were instructed to target a particular type of corrections officer to further the interests of the enterprise. More specifically, the gang members focused on women who appeared to suffer from insecurities and/or who exhibit low self-esteem.

Prosecutors released the transcript of a wiretapped phone call made by Tavon White earlier this year.  That phone call depicts just how much control he had been able to exert over many of the individuals involved at the prison facility:

“This is my jail. You understand that? I’m dead serious … I make every final call in this jail … and nothing go past me, everything come to me … Any of my brothers that deal with anybody, it’s gonna come to me. You see what I am saying? Everything come to me. Everything. Before a [expletive] hit a [expletive] in the mouth, guess what they do? They gotta run it through me. I tell them whether it’s a go ahead, and they can do it or whether they hold back. Before a [expletive] stab somebody, they gotta run it through me … Anything that get done must go through me.”

Tavon White has since been transferred out of the Baltimore City Detention Center. The 13 officers indicted have been placed on unpaid leave while officials determine if their employment will be terminated.

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