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Five takeaways from Maryland's latest prison smuggling case

A federal grand just has indicted 20 defendants on federal racketeering and related charges at the Maryland Correctional Instutute in Jessup. The charges included correctional officers, employees, contractors and inmates. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)

Federal authorities in Maryland announced Tuesday a crackdown on yet another prison smuggling ring, charging 20 people including three guards with sneaking drugs, tobacco, porn and cellphones inside a medium-scrutiny prison in Jessup.

Authorities say they have indicted nearly 200 people in Maryland — guards and inmates alike — for prison smuggling in recent years. Here are five takeaways from the latest case.

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» Prison smuggling is a lucrative business. Investigators found a Suboxone strip — intended to wean addicts off heroin — sells for $10 on the street and fetches $50 behind bars.

» Inmates and guards allegedly established a sophisticated network to transfer and pay for drugs. Investigators say prisoners used smuggled cellphones to transfer money through PayPal and Western Union. Prosecutors also say drugs were left at designated stash locations, such as in the library, and prisoners who held jobs allowing them to walk around took orders from other inmates and accepted deliveries from corrupt guards.

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» Contraband has become high-tech. Investigators found flash drives loaded with pornography.

» Authorities say they continue to find inappropriate romances behind bars. Two female correctional officers are alleged to have developed relationships with inmates. This also occurred in 2013, when investigators uncovered a free-for-all behind the walls of the Baltimore City Detention Center. The Black Guerrilla Family had free rein inside and one gang leader had impregnated four of the guards.

» One correctional officer is alleged to have smuggled drugs to a member of the Bloods street gang. According to prosecutors, the gang member then sent other Bloods to perform sexual favors for the guard in exchange for the contraband.

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