February 11, 2010
For More Information
Contact: Public Affairs Office
Shortly after 8 a.m. today, a Federal Bureau of Investigation SWAT team simultaneously arrested 11 Department of Corrections employees who work at Glades Correctional Institution and four employees of the privately-run South Bay Correctional Facility. Both prisons are located in Palm Beach County, and the arrests took place at the Glades CI training facility. The employees are facing federal charges including conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, and attempt to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, and state charges of bribery of a public official, introduction of contraband into a correctional facility and unlawful compensation.
These arrests are the culmination of “Operation Blind Justice,” a 26-month joint sting operation between the Florida Department of Corrections, the FBI, the Palm Beach and St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Offices, and the U.S. and state attorney’s offices.
“Department of Corrections staff alerted authorities in December 2007 to the unusual amount of drug activity occurring in their facility, and have worked continually with state and federal agents to bring this operation to a successful conclusion,” said Department of Corrections Secretary Walter McNeil. “I’m particularly proud of former Warden Christopher Douglas, Prison Inspector Darrel Grabner, and our Inspector General’s Drug Interdiction Unit, who spotted the problem and took immediate and appropriate action. Current Warden Robert Shannon was also instrumental in the investigation.”
Drug use in prison settings heightens the potential danger to staff and other inmates. Inmates on drugs are more aggressive and volatile, giving rise to more disturbances and confrontations.
The Department’s Inspector General’s Drug Interdiction Unit, in cooperation with institutional security staff, combat the introduction of drugs into Florida prisons with drug sniffing dogs, routine and random searches of inmates, visitors, staff and the prison grounds. The Department also conducts random drug testing of inmates.
In 2009, the Department’s Inspector General’s Drug Interdiction canines performed 768 searches of prison parking lots, prison housing and grounds. More than 3,800 grams of marijuana, 700 grams of cocaine and 13 grams of heroin were seized in 2009, resulting in the arrests of four staff, 35 visitors and 11 inmates. More than 1,000 contraband cell phones were also seized last year.
Department of Corrections Employees Arrested:
|Title/Name||Month/Year Birth||Hire Date||Salary|
|Correctional Officer (CO) Latess Hill||5/82||12/17/04||$33,609|
|CO Jentle Chatman||8/82||3/25/05||$33,609|
|Sgt. Zedra Warner||9/77||11/7/03||$37,467|
|CO Belinda Brown||6/75||9/26/03||$35,027|
|CO Tanika Wright||10/83||1/13/06||$34,649|
|CO Samantha Wilkerson||2/82||1/30/04||$35,027|
|CO Kenyetta Biggs||11/84||10/5/07||$33,307|
|CO Melvin Brown||3/85||2/11/05||$33,609|
|CO Marcus Pitre||6/82||1/5/07||$33,307|
|Sgt. Takisha Golden||11/76||4/2/04||$36,467|
|Sgt. Alanda Shaw||5/71||12/11/98||$37,645|
South Bay Correctional Facility Employees Arrested:
For more information on South Bay employees, call GEO Group (Pablo Paez) at (866) 301-4436.
For more information regarding "Operation Blind Justice," call Alicia Valle at (305) 961-9153.
For more information on Department of Corrections employees, call the Public Affairs Office at (850) 488-0420.