Indictment: Inmates used dairy, State House to smuggle items
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina inmates and their accomplices used bread deliveries, a prison dairy and inmate work crews at the State House to smuggle drugs, cigarettes, cell phones and other items into state prisons, according to recently announced indictments.
Seventeen people were charged in what the attorney general’s office described in Friday’s indictments as “sophisticated and highly lucrative conspiracies” to smuggle large amounts of contraband into state prisons. Authorities said an inmate known as “Christ” oversaw the network that relied on people inside and outside prison walls.
A prison dairy farm at the Wateree Correctional Institution in Sumter County was a key location in the scheme, authorities said. The farm provides milk to the institutions within all of the prison system.
According to the indictment, people outside prison would hide duffel bags stuffed with items on the farmland property at night. Inmates working at the dairy would tuck the items in secretly marked milk crates that were “ultimately trucked to all of the institutions with the system.”
Similarly, items were stashed adjacent to a Columbia bakery that provides bread for state prisons. Inmates accompanying truck drivers on deliveries would sneak the items into prisons. Co-conspirators would hide items “at various locations around the State House and the state office buildings” and inmates on State House work duty “would obtain it and return it back within the prison walls for delivery throughout the system.”
The indictment alleges a prison inmate Baraka Ramos, who is nicknamed “Christ” was behind some of the smuggling operations. Local news outlets report that Ramos told a judge Friday that the accusations are untrue.
Ramos’ lawyer said the charges were announced on the same day Ramos was scheduled to be released from prison for a previous drug trafficking conviction.