Prison authorities seize 60 phones in prison
Front Page
May 15, 2009
Prison authorities seize 60 phones in prison

Prison authorities have seized 60 cellular phones and six pounds of marijuana over the last two months, Prison Chief Eric Rodriguez says.{{more}}

When he spoke to SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, May 13th, the phones and drugs had already been handed over to the police, and Rodriguez said that he is satisfied that the problem of items being smuggled into the prison is under control.

“Even if they get in, they don’t stay long,” Rodriguez said.

He was speaking to SEARCHLIGHT on the heels of a police led sweep that reportedly took place at the prison on Saturday, May 9, and included officers attached to the Narcotics Division, Criminal Investigations Department(CID) and the Rapid Response Unit(RRU).

While Rodriguez did not comment on the police operation, he, however, told SEARCHLIGHT that he has long stepped up searches of the prison to make sure that contraband items are kept out, or swiftly removed.

“We have been spot checking prison officers, too,” he told SEARCHLIGHT.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that one cellular phone, two sim cards and a quantity of marijuana were recovered in last Saturday’s operation.

A quantity of home made wine was also recovered from the cells, which has resulted in a temporary ban being placed on fruits being brought to the prison.

Superintendent Rodriguez said that about a week before the police operation, he warned prisoners about the trend that was developing, where they were making wine using fruit brought to them by relatives.

He said that a system will be put in place to make sure that excess fruit is not kept, only enough to be used in one day, as a way to put a dent into this practice.

Rodriguez said that with the increased spot check of officers, he believes that there has been a decrease in things coming through the front gate, but controlling things coming over the wall remains a challenge.

Just last Sunday, prison officers intercepted a package containing marijuana and cigarettes that was tossed over the walls in the prison.

Rodriguez told SEARCHLIGHT that the prison is working on getting a $40,000 piece of equipment called Orion 111, which is able to detect cell phones, whether turned on or off, through solid walls up to three feet thick.

As to reports that prisoners had gone on a hunger strike, Rodriguez explained that during the police operation spoken of earlier, some authorized radios had been removed from the prison.

This is what “sparked some grumbling,” he told SEARCHLIGHT, but said nothing escalated into violence or a hunger strike, as was being suggested.