A notorious prisoner got four female guards pregnant as he played “kingpin” inside a corrupt jail, a court has heard.
Gangster Tavon White was serving 20 years for attempted murder inside Baltimore City Detention Centre.
But he managed to make tens of thousands of dollars a week by smuggling in drugs and mobile phones, CBS Baltimore reports, and was once heard saying: “This is my jail. My word is law.”
Prosecutors say gang members held the balance of power inside the prison, and sex between guards and inmates led to four guards becoming pregnant.
The two of the four women are even said to have had tattoos of White’s name, with one displaying a “Tavon” tattoo on her neck and the other on her wrist.
However White, a member of the Black Guerilla Family who is also known as “The Bulldog”, is now set to become a star witness in the prosecution of two other inmates and five prison guards over money laundering, drugs and conspiracy charges.
White has already pleaded guilty to a number of drug distribution and money laundering charges.
THEY call him Bulldog, and this is his jail.
Tavon White is serving 20 years in the Baltimore City Detention Centre for attempted murder. During his incarceration, he has impregnated four female prison guards and ascended as kingpin of a breathtaking world of corruption.
He is the leader of the Black Guerilla Family — a gang that worked with guards to smuggle drugs and mobile phone into the Baltimore jail and others around the country.
He is also the prosecution’s star witness in a federal case against dozens of inmates and correctional officers involved in the “upside-down world … where officers took directions from gang members”.
Bulldog: ‘This is my prison’
Inside the Baltimore City Detention Center, gang members used smuggled mobile phones, dealt drugs and had sex with corrupt guards — several of whom they impregnated — who helped them as they ran operations of the Black Guerilla Family, according to court papers in a case alleging widespread corruption at the state-run facility.
“This is my jail, you understand that,” Tavon “Bulldog” White told a friend in a January 2013 call, according to the documents. “I make every final call in this jail … everything come to me.”
“Whatever I say is law,” White, a member of the gang that took root in Baltimore’s jails in the 1990s, proclaimed in a call a month later. “Like I am the law.”
Black Guerilla Family members worked with guards to smuggle drugs and phones — crucial for the gang to conduct business on the outside — into the jail and other correctional facilities, according to a 2013 federal indictment charging White, 16 other inmates and 27 correctional officers with conspiracy, drug distribution or money laundering charges.
Prosecutors also say the ring involved sex between inmates and guards, which led to four officers becoming pregnant.
Nearly all of those charged, including White, accepted plea deals. Trial for two inmates, five correctional officers and another state employee is under way.
In opening statements, prosecutor Robert Harding painted a portrait of a jail plagued with corruption at the hands of guards.
Four of the five officers on trial, he said, engaged in sexual relationships with gang members and allowed the enterprise to operate inside the jail with impunity.
“There was no raising of the BGF flag on the guard tower, but a gradual assumption of an incredible amount of power by the prison gang inside the prison,” Harding said. “They operated an underground economy in the prison for years.
How is this possible? … People who were supposed to be protecting the public interest but instead opted to form an alliance with an exceedingly violent gang.”
Defence attorneys insisted that their clients’ actions did not further the interests of the enterprise.
Prisoners gain the upper hand
The case reveals details about how inmates controlled the very guards tasked with supervising them and provides a glimpse into the strategies of the Black Guerilla Family’s operations on the streets and behind bars.
The case also sparked fierce backlash and harsh criticism, leading the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to resign.
Since the indictment, the Public Safety Department has increased personnel in its intelligence and investigations unit and is developing a polygraph unit that can test guard candidates, spokesman Mark Vernarelli said.
The department invested $US4 million in technology to block calls on unauthorised mobile phones. The facility is searched at least once a week, he said.
Several laws were passed this year to try to strengthen security and ensure oversight. One enables the state to remove officers from an institution without pay for bringing a mobile phone or charger into a facility, in addition to drugs and alcohol.
Another raises fines for visitors who smuggle electronics to inmates and increases jail time for inmates caught with contraband.
While the most recent scandal made national headlines, it is not the first time authorities have tried to dismantle Black Guerilla Family’s stronghold in Baltimore’s jails.
Founded in San Francisco in the 1960s, Black Guerilla Family began taking root in Maryland in the 1990s, investigators say. In 2008, BGF became the dominant gang at the jail, where members established a monopoly over the drug trade.
The next year, a federal investigation produced 24 indictments against BGF members and associates in Baltimore. Four were state corrections officers.