A “black market bazaar” of heroin, marijuana, pornographic videos, tobacco, cell phones, and liquor is routinely being smuggled past security checkpoints and into Maryland’s troubled prisons, reports the Baltimore Sun. The state is trying to stem the flow, including more thorough searches of staff, visitors, and volunteers.
The Sun reviewed contraband reports filed by the state’s nine largest prisons. Heroin and other illegal drugs are making it into almost all of the state’s prisons, occasionally in large quantities. Officials found 121 cell phones, which allow inmates to arrange drug deals or direct outside criminal enterprises while serving time. Tobacco, banned in prisons since 2001, has become the most-smuggled commodity. Drug trafficking can be lucrative in prison because a small packet of heroin can sell for 10 times its value on the streets. “That’s what everything in the whole prison is about – drugs,” said Chester Norman, who served time in Maryland and is now rebuilding his life in another state. “Almost all the violence and stuff is based on the drugs.”