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Former guard sentenced for smuggling drugs, phones, into San Diego prison

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Posted at 3:43 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 18:43:36-05

SAN DIEGO (CNS) — A former officer at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility was sentenced Thursday to more than three years behind bars for smuggling drugs and cell phones into the San Diego prison.

Anibal Navarro, 43, of Chula Vista, pleaded guilty to federal bribery and conspiracy charges and admitted to smuggling phones, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana and other contraband into the prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors say that while imprisoned at Donovan, inmate Martin Gomez recruited Navarro by "offering him an avenue to make extra money that Gomez knew Navarro needed."

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Gomez ran the operation for more than two years and while incarcerated in state prisons in both San Diego and Los Angeles, he arranged for others to deliver contraband to various inmates through Navarro.

Navarro smuggled more than 500 grams of drugs into Donovan, while phones he smuggled "were used to coordinate criminal activity both inside and outside Donovan," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, which said Navarro was paid between $1,000 and $2,000 each time he smuggled goods into the prison.

"Corrections officers are charged with the responsibility of keeping the public, inmates, and other prison staff safe," said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. "Former Officer Navarro personally profited from creating a dangerous environment in the prison by smuggling in extremely harmful and addictive narcotics. Additionally, cell phones inside a prison allow inmates to coordinate other illegal acts, like smuggling drugs, fraud, and even violence."

Nearly a dozen others, including Gomez, have pleaded guilty and been sentenced in connection with the case.