Drugs discovered in DepCor's Hagatna facility - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Drugs discovered in DepCor's Hagatna facility

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - Pre-trial and federal detainees at the Hagatna Detention Facility had a rude awakening this morning, as they woke up to a surprise shakedown of their cells. It's not the first time drugs and illegal contraband have made their way inside the prison walls, but the Department of Corrections is admitting they have no one to blame but themselves.  

The Hagatna Detention Facility and the Mangilao Compound are intended to keep criminals inside, behind bars away from the general public.  But DepCor officials are finding it difficult to keep drugs and contraband out.

During a surprise sweep at the Hagatna Lockup, officers found marijuana, moonshine and glass pipes used to smoke crystal meth.  Jimmy Green is the senior team leader of the Special Operations Response Team; he and eight other corrections officers have received special training for high-risk security patrol.  He told KUAM News, "What we did was get above the laundry room area and we saw some screws had been tampered with, so we started a search." 

The shakedown also covered heating storage areas, revealing drugs, mobile phones, cigarettes a DVD player.  How does someone get at DVD player in, you may ask?  Warden Frank Crisostimo has an idea.

"The people that hold the key most likely authorized this thing to come in," he postulated.  "They failed to do their job."

DepCor Director J.B. Palacios says the surprise inspection happened at five o'clock this morning and they're now investigating how the contraband made its way inside the lockup.  Palacios says the investigation this time around is focused internally as previous investigations focused on items being thrown over the fence into the facility by members of the public.

"We can't continue to blame the public," said Palacios.  "At some point in time we have to take ownership of those things that go wrong, we're focusing on the officers not to imply a direct involvement but at the very minimum its obvious that there is a lapse in the security protocols that are in place."

Both Director Palacios and Warden Crisostomo say if any correction officers found to be liable, they will face immediate termination.  Palacios says they looking into those officers suspected of having involvement in the finding of contraband at the Mangilao Facility earlier this year that have since been transferred to work at the Hagatna Facility.

"At least it gets a sense of direction as to where we are going to proceed with this investigation and not just be overwhelmed with it - at least we have a sense of direction at where we're going to start," he said.

DepCor is working with the Guam Police Department try to lift latent prints off the contraband.  The recent contraband has forced the DepCor to change visitation policies and longer allow visitor to carry electronic items.  The policy change will soon be put to the test - as the latest breach in security continues to be investigated, the grounds will continue to be searched in efforts to keep illegal drugs from behind bars.

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