SAN DIEGO – A Lancaster man and woman are among eight people who were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that they were members of a network that smuggled methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana into the Calipatria State Prison.
Ryan Hawes, 25, was arrested in Lancaster early Tuesday morning, while 29-year-old Brittney Turner is still at large, authorities said.
The other defendants in the case include 28-year-old Nathaniel Frazier of Los Angeles; 29-year-old Tameika Watts of Los Angeles; 34-year-old Myesha Walters of West Covina; 26-year-old D’Mondo Burns and 34-year-old Brandon Carroll, both inmates at Calipatria State Prison inmate; and 44-year-old Angela Carr of Moreno Valley, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The key defendant, Angela Carr, was a supervisory drug counselor at the Calipatria State Prison, where she routinely met with inmates attending the prison’s substance abuse program, officials said.
“While occupying a position of trust Ms. Carr is alleged to have facilitated the distribution of drugs within the prison population at Calipatria State Prison, thereby undermining the correction and rehabilitation of its inmates,” FBI Special Agent Eric S. Birnbaum said in the news release.
Four of Carr’s co-conspirators were inmates – three of whom participated in her drug-addiction recovery program. One of those inmates, D’Mondo Burns, was a drug counseling mentor to other inmates. The other inmates charged include Ryan Hawes, Nathaniel Frazier and Brandon Carroll.
According to a search warrant affidavit, Carr received the drugs from the inmates’ girlfriends, identified as Brittney Turner, Tameika Watts and Myesha Walters.
Carr would meet the women in parking lots of bowling allies and big-box stores in Palmdale and Moreno Valley to receive the drugs and contraband, according to the search warrant. Carr then would bring the controlled substances – including methamphetamine, 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 cell phones at a time into the prison, and the phones were to be sold to other inmates and used to coordinate criminal activity both inside and outside the facility.
The drugs and scores of cell phones allegedly smuggled into the prison by the drug counselor on one occasion were estimated to have a prison value of nearly $1.2 million, according to the news release.
Carr’s alleged corruption was discovered in August of 2015 when she was confronted at the staff entrance of the prison, reeking of marijuana, according to the news release.
“She had almost a pound of methamphetamine; 4 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 cell phones,” the news release states.
“We are putting everyone on notice: Whatever part you play in the prison smuggling equation, you’re going to be held accountable,” stated U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “If you smuggle drugs and contraband into prisons 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.”
If convicted, the eight defendants face maximum life sentences of life in prison, according to the news release.
The FBI encourages the public to report allegations of public corruption to the hotline 877-NO-BRIBE (662-7423).