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17 Indicted in SC Prison Smuggling Ring

by Scott Grammer

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced on November 23, 2018 that 17 indictments had been issued after an investigation into a prison contraband smuggling ring that authorities called “Operation Cash Cow.” The indictments against four prisoners, one guard and a dozen free-world persons claim that cell phones and accessories, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids, suboxone, cocaine and crack were smuggled into state facilities by “friends, wives, girlfriends, relatives, former inmates, and others.”

People on the outside would reportedly bring contraband to a dairy or bakery outside the prison. Prisoners working at those locations would package the goods into shipments of milk and bread. “SCDC’s food distribution network was used against itself to carry out this contraband operation,” said Wilson. “This [contraband] is really driving the gang violence problem we have within the Department of Corrections.” 

Contraband was also allegedly hidden for prisoners working at the Statehouse. Another method of getting contraband into prisons was for someone to simply throw the items over the fence; netting is now stretched above prison walls to eliminate such “throw-overs.” The SCDC is also trying to implement jamming technology to combat contraband cell phones. 



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