Eleven people - including a former Corrections Officer at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) - are facing charges for allegedly smuggling drugs and cell phones into the prison over a two-year period, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's office.
Anibal Navarro, 38, a former Corrections Officer, the key defendant, and ten individuals - including inmates and their associates on the outside - were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that they conspired to smuggle methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana and cell phones into the prison, according to the U.S. Attorney.
Navarro was arrested by FBI agents and officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations, Office of Internal Affairs, on June 26 as he attempted to smuggle drugs and phones into the prison.
“Corrections officers play a critical role in protecting the public from some of the most dangerous criminals," Deputy United States Attorney Mark Conover said in a statement. "By placing greed above his duty, former Officer Navarro compromised the security of the public and enabled violent felons to continue committing crimes within the prison walls. We will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute every individual involved in these criminal activities.”
Four more of the defendants were arrested Tuesday in Los Angeles. Six more were already in custody in California state prisons.
The network began when inmate Martin Gomez, who was at RJD in 2014, recruited Navarro to smuggle contraband into the prison, according to the U.S. Attorney.
Gomez was eventually moved to a different state prison, but he continued to work with defendant Sylvia Gonzales, an associate outside the prison, and others, to coordinate and supervise the operation, according to the indictment.
Everaldo Santana, Norma Alvarado-Medina and Vanessa Jackson also helped the operation outside the prison, according to the indictment.
The four working outside of the prisons allegedly provided Navarro with drugs and phones to smuggle inside.
In return, he was paid between $1,000 and $2,000 each time he smuggled an item inside, according to the indictment.
Then, RJD inmates Agustin Aceves, Juan Gutierrez, John Price, Jeremy Gaither and Hugo Alvarado allegedly distributed the narcotics and phones to other inmates.
The phones were used to coordinate criminal activity inside and outside the facility, according to the indictment.
The operation started April 2014 and lasted for nearly two years.
The public can report allegations of public corruption to the FBI by using their hotline at (877) NO-BRIBE (662-7423).