WASHINGTON–Eleven people, including a former Corrections Officer at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, were charged in federal court as members of a network that smuggled methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana and cellular telephones into the prison.
The key defendant, Anibal Navarro, the former Corrections Officer at the facility was arrested by FBI Agents and officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations-Office of Internal Affairs on June 26, 2016 as he attempted to smuggle heroin, methamphetamine and cellular telephones into the prison.
Ten additional individuals, including inmates and their associates on the outside, were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that they conspired with Navarro to smuggle drugs and cellular telephones into the prison. Navarro was released on bond.
Four defendants were arrested Tuesday in Los Angeles; six are already in custody in California state prisons.
According to the indictment, Martin Gomez, while an inmate at the facility in 2014, recruited Navarro to smuggle contraband into the prison. After Gomez was moved to another California state prison, he continued to coordinate and supervise the operation by conducting conference calls with Sylvia Gonzales, Gomez’s associate outside the prison, Navarro and others. During these calls, the conspirators arranged for narcotics, cellular telephones and cash to be delivered to Navarro at various locations in Southern California.
In addition to Gonzales, the smuggling operation was also aided by others outside the prison, including Everaldo Santana, Norma Alvardo-Medina and Vanessa Jackson, according to allegations in the indictment. These individuals provided Navarro with the narcotics and cellular telephones to smuggle into the prison. return, Navarro was paid between $1,000 and $2,000 each time he smuggled contraband into the prison. According to the dictment, this smuggling operation began in April 2014 and lasted nearly two years until it was dismantled in June 2016 with Navarro’s arrest.
The indictment alleges that after the contraband was smuggled into the prison, RJD inmates Agustin Aceves, Juan Gutierrez, John Price, Jeremy Gaither and Hugo Alvarado received and distributed the narcotics and cellular telephones to other inmates. The phones were used to coordinate criminal activity both inside and outside the facility.
Deputy United States Attorney Mark Conover said, “Corrections officers play a critical role in protecting the public from some of the most dangerous criminals. By placing greed above his duty, former Officer Navarro compromised the security of the public and enabled violent felons to continue committing crimes within the prison walls. We will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute every individual involved in these criminal activities.”
“The FBI is responsible for investigating corruption involving government officials and their entire criminal networks,” FBI Special Agent Eric Birnbaum.
If convicted, the defendants face 20 years to life in prison.