The indictment charges alleged gang members both within and outside of the jail. One remained at large Tuesday, and another was shot and killed in a separate incident before the grand jury returned the indictment.
Some of the corrections officers were motivated by money, according to the U.S. attorney for Maryland, Rod J. Rosenstein. Others were drawn into the gang's orbit because of their personal relationships with its members.
The indictment alleges that the officers were easily able to smuggle contraband, thanks to lax security and light penalties. The guards were able to enter the jail through certain entrances without any security screening, and they had a number of ruses for passing undetected through the main entrance, according to the indictment.
"The procedures and personnel [at the main entrance] were completely inadequate to prevent smuggling," the indictment says. 'The chances of being searched effectively were remote."
Officials with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which runs the detention center, condemned the alleged violations and said internal investigations will move forward now that the federal indictment has been unsealed.
"Everything that happens in this department is my responsibility," department secretary Gary D. Maynard said. "It's totally on me."
"We're looking at the policies that affect the jail and the detention center," Maynard added.
A spokesman for the department said 13 correctional officers have been suspended without pay. The department is recommending that they be dismissed, the spokesman said.
Maynard said the department had commissioned an outside audit of the jail in a move not connected to the federal investigation, and was reviewing its recommendations. He declined to release the findings of that audit.
State legislators said the allegations show the need for reforms to the state jail system.
Sen. Christopher B. Shank, a Washington County Republican who sits on the Judicial Proceedings Committee, called the level of corruption at the detention center "shocking."
"I'm pleased the department is working with federal authorities. Those folks need to be held accountable to deter others," he said.
Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell, a Baltimore Democrat, said she is supportive of "anything that would eliminate the transport of contraband … into the prisons."
"We have to make sure appropriate training takes place and we are paying our corrections officers to make sure they are not engaging in negative behavior so they don't feel they need to take risks to help them out financially," she said.
Archer Blackwell, a senior staff representative with the union that represents the jail's officers, said the management of the detention center should do more to screen and prepare workers.
"The administration really doesn't do a good job of hiring quality people," he said. "They need to do more psychological examination, they need to do more in the academy to actually train and discipline people."
The Black Guerrilla Family, a gang with roots in California prisons, has been the dominant gang at the detention center since 2006, prosecutors wrote in the indictment. Baltimore police and federal law enforcement have brought a number of cases against alleged members in recent months.
As officials were laying out the allegations at a news conference, some of the defendants were appearing in federal court across the street. Most were released on their own recognizance and were escorted by law enforcement out of the courtroom. Their lawyers declined to comment.
One of the women appeared before a magistrate judge still wearing her corrections uniform.