LEAKESVILLE, MS (WLOX) - What's being called a major inmate-led smuggling ring has a corrections officer and three relatives of an inmate in trouble with the law. Investigators say they can trace that smuggling ring to the South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville.
According to the MDOC Office of Communications, a storage unit full of contraband including bags of spice, tobacco, 126 cell phone chargers, cell phone batteries, spray paint, scissors and SIM cards was raided in Meridian as a result of the investigation.
"We have dismantled a significant criminal enterprise," MDOC Commissioner Marshall Fisher said. "This is another example of how inmates are involved in organized crime from behind the walls. I don't like hearing we have staff involved because, once again, it takes the focus off all the honest, hardworking other employees who are grossly underpaid."
Regina Mason, 43, Demetrice Taylor, 44, Rushia Keyes, 32, and Sherrice Richardson, 22, have all been charged with conspiracy to introduce contraband and were released from the Greene County Jail after posting bond.
A conviction on the conspiracy charges carries up to five years in prison and a maximum $5,000 fine.
MDOC officials said Richardson told investigators she received $700 from the relatives of an inmate to smuggle contraband into the prison. Richardson was still in training at SMCI when she was arrested on Jan. 25.
"The inmate leading this operation has not been charged, but he, as well as two other inmates, will face felony charges," said Sean K. Smith, chief investigator for MDOC. "Also, we expect to make more civilian arrests as a result of the details provided by the suspects."
Officials said the contraband was prepackaged and delivered to certain locations to be picked up by corrections officers or inmates. According to investigators, some of the suspects even drove others to the prisons to throw contraband over the fence.
Investigators have yet to determine how long the smuggling ring has been going on or how much money may be involved.