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N4T Investigators: Authorities stop hundreds of smuggling attemp - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Authorities stop hundreds of smuggling attempts inside Arizona prisons

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The Arizona State Prison Complex Tucson is home to hundreds of felons. Though, some of the people who get to go home on the outside every night may actually be jeopardizing the facility's security on the inside.

“Cell-phones are a tremendous threat to the security of our prison systems around the country,” said Arizona Department of Corrections Inspector General, Greg Lauchner said.

Two cell phones are just part of the contraband smuggled in to the prison last month. According to court documents obtained by the News 4 Tucson Investigators, a contract worker was also caught bringing in drugs and cell phones. Though, it likely wasn't orchestrated the old fashioned way.

 “Every correctional facility institution in our state, inmates have access to telephones. they are recorded phone calls. they are monitored by officials from the department,” Lauchner said.

Those landlines give corrections officers a direct line to monitor potential criminal plots. Cell-phones are more covert, allowing inmates to organize behind a shroud of secrecy.

“We know that they are used for furtherance of criminal enterprise, for arranging methods of contraband introduction, for calling assaults or violence on another yard, against a particular individual or staff member,” Lauchner said.

The vast majority of staff members are on the up-and-up. However, on the downside, a corrections officer was caught this month bringing heroin into the prison on South Wilmot Road in Tucson. Lauchner says he was searched, like anyone else could be, and claimed the contraband was for personal use.   

“When we catch them, there are no breaks. We pursue them criminally as aggressively as we do anyone else,” Lauchner said.    

 Smuggling into Arizona State Prisons is attempted at least 300 times a year, a potential felony whether you're an employee or civilian.

“You may get away with it once, you may get away with it twice, but ultimately you are going to be caught,” Lauchner said.

Both workers at the prison on Wilmot Road have been fired. If they are convicted, they could end up right back where they started - inside an Arizona state prison.

If you have something you would like the News 4 Tucson Investigators to check out, email us at investigators@kvoa.com, or call the News 4 Tucson Investigators tip-line at (520) 955-4444. 

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