A former supervisory drug counselor at Calipatria State Prison and four inmates who took part in a drug rehabilitation program she ran are among eight people named in a San Diego federal grand jury indictment alleging they were members of a network that smuggled drugs into the lockup.
According to U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, this is the first large-scale drug smuggling conspiracy prosecution involving a prison in the Southern District of California. Calipatria State Prison is located in Imperial County.
Drug counselor Angela Carr is accused of smuggling drugs -- including methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana -- and cellphones into the prison five times. On one of those occasions, an estimated $1.2 million in contraband was brought into Calipatria, Duffy said.
"We are putting everyone on notice: Whatever part you play in the prison smuggling equation, you're going to be held accountable," Duffy said. "If you smuggle drugs and contraband into a prison located in the Southern District of California, we will prosecute you federally. And if you're in prison, we're not going to overlook you just because you're already there."
Authorities said Carr's job involved routinely meeting with inmates attending the prison's substance abuse recovery program. Four of her alleged co-conspirators are prisoners who took part in the program, including Ryan Hawes, Nathaniel Frazier, Brandon Carroll. The fourth, D'Mondo Burns, was a drug counseling mentor to other inmates, prosecutors said.
While the inmates were purported to be seeking help in kicking their drug habits, they were, in fact, utilizing the prison's drug counseling program to smuggle drugs and other contraband into the facility, the government alleges.
According to a search warrant affidavit, Carr received the drugs from three women who have relationships with inmates at Calipatria and are named in the indictment.
Carr, 44, would allegedly meet Brittney Turner, Tameika Watts and Myesha Walters in parking lots of bowling alleys and big-box stores in Palmdale and Moreno Valley to receive the drugs and contraband.
Carr would then allegedly bring the controlled substances -- including meth, heroin, marijuana, Xanax, Valium, Soma and Norco -- into the prison, concealed in chip bags, Quaker Oatmeal boxes and cookie and coffee containers.
The indictment also alleges that Carr smuggled as many as 40 cellphones at a time into the prison. The smuggled phones were to be sold to other inmates, and used to coordinate criminal activity both inside and outside the facility, according to federal prosecutors.
Carr smuggled drugs and contraband into the prison on at least five occasions over several months, and in return was paid about $3,500, Duffy alleged.
Carr's alleged scheme unraveled last August when she was confronted at the staff entrance of the prison, reeking of marijuana, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
She was allegedly carrying almost a pound of meth, four pounds of marijuana, a quarter-pound of heroin, 409 tablets of Soma, Xanax, Valium and Norco, 212 grams of tobacco, four bottles of cough syrup and 39 cellphones.