Feds: Jailers scandal a "pattern of greed & corruption"
Wed, 27 Feb 2013 16:52:51 GMT —
A pattern of greed and corruption.
That's what authorities say about an investigation that ended with the arrest of 12 jail guards and 17 others.
Federal officials are calling it "Operation Prison Cell".
Federal agents arrested 29 out of the 32 suspects earlier this week.
All of the suspects are named in a racketeering indictment filed in Corpus Christi.
Five of the suspects are from the Rio Grande Valley:
Desiree Silguero, 42, McAllenJamie Jorge Garza, 38, Santa ElenaOscar Juraidini, 24, BrownsvilleMaria Fernanda Hidalgo, 31, McAllenMaria Rose Rodriguez, 34, Alamo
The other 24 suspects were arrested across South Texas and even Louisiana.
Investigators say it all started with an investigation into gangs and car theft rings in corpus Christi.
U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson said the stolen cars were being taken south of he border to Mexico.
The investigation continued with two indictments: one involving the Raza Unida prison gang and the other with members of the Aryan Circle.
But those investigations also led to the McConnell Unit, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison in Beeville.
That's where investigators learned that prison guards were smuggling cell phones to inmates.
But it didn't end there.
Prosecutors allege the guards were were also providing inmates with cigarettes, meth, marijuana and cocaine.
So far two inmates have been named in the conspiracy as well as four middlemen and 13 others.
TDCJ official promised further investigation.
"This is only the beginning," said Bruce Toney with the TDCJ Office of the Inspector General. "We'll get anyone who betrays the public's trust a new set of clothes."
Three suspects in the case, one of them a prison guard remain listed as fugitives in the case.