Instead of the phone being smuggled by a single corrupt guard, as originally thought, investigators now say it and dozens of others might have been put in the hands of Texas' worst killers by an intricate network of supporters and their families who used code words, fake names, money transfers, prearranged drop sites and even a secret compartment at the bottom of a garbage can to get the phones inside what is supposed to be the most secure part of Texas' prison system.
Investigators say they believe several organized groups are involved in the trafficking.
"From the time someone puts up the money to get the phone for an inmate, there may be six to eight sets of hands involved with that phone, six to eight different people who do one thing or another," said the prison system's top investigator, Inspector General John Moriarty. "It's a convoluted, complicated network that's very difficult to trace. And it's going to be very difficult to shut off, because as soon as we bust someone, another person will step in and start it all over again.
"The demand is the problem. It's huge."
If nothing else, the new details explain why smuggling cell phones into Texas prisons continues almost unabated four months after [Richard] Tabler's arrest triggered an unprecedented lockdown of the 154,800-inmate system, a new zero-tolerance policy on all contraband and an emergency request by prison officials for $66 million to upgrade security to curb the problem.
TDCJ had earlier announced it had caught dozens of guards smuggling cell phones onto prison units, so this news doesn't necessarily exonerate TDCJ from allegations of guard corruption, but it certainly complicates the picture involving cell phone smuggling and makes it a more difficult challenge to solve. Definitely read the whole thing.