Arrests were being made across the state Thursday morning as about four dozen current and former state prison guards were told they face drug and bribery charges.
The charges are outlined in seven federal indictments, which have recently been unsealed. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta plans an afternoon press conference to announce the charges.
The indictments are part of a continuing crackdown to rid the state prison system of drugs, corruption and contraband cell phones which are being used by inmates to commit crimes outside the prison walls.
The new indictments allege corruption by guards from Phillips, Macon, Dooly, Hancock, Pulaski and Baldwin state prisons. Five of the guards being charged were members of the Department of Corrections’ tactical team, which works to rid prisons of contraband and control riots.
According to one indictment, guards allegedly believed they were providing protection to a Locust Grove-area drug dealer who was transporting multiple kilograms of methamphetamine and cocaine. In exchange, the guards received thousands of dollars in bribes, the indictment said.
The seven federal indictments released Thursday showed what U.S. Attorney John Horn called “staggering corruption.”
“It is truly troubling that so many corrections officers from across the state of Georgia could be so willing to sell their oaths, to sell their badges, for personal profit to benefit and protect purported drug transactions, drug dealers,” Horn said at an afternoon press conference.
The announcement Thursday was the fourth into criminal allegations at Georgia prisons since an investigation began two years ago.
“They not only betrayed the institutions that they were sworn to protect, but they betrayed the trust and faith of thousands of honest corrections officers who uphold the ideals and values of their jobs every day,” Horn said.
All together, approximately 130 people have been charged in the extensive operation, including prison employees, inmates and outside co-conspirators, according to investigators. The investigation began two years ago and focused on just one prison, where there were allegations of cellphones and fraud. But agents learned the problems went beyond one prison, Horn said.