Armed with shovels, correctional officers at a Texas prison last summer unearthed a cache filled with hundreds of smuggled items, including 45 cellphones and 52 chargers. Nearly a year later, no arrests have been made in the elaborate trafficking attempt, the Texas Tribune reports. Few inmates or correctional officers face legal consequences for smuggling cellphones even as officials intensified efforts to keep the devices out of prisons.
Just 5 percent of cellphone smuggling cases from 2009 to 2013 resulted in a criminal sentence, according to documents obtained through a public information request. Prison officials said one challenge was linking the smuggled phones to prisoners or correctional officers for prosecution, because the devices were secreted away in spots that were hard to find, or found in common areas. It falls to prosecutors in the rural, cash-strapped regions where most prisons are located to decide whether to spend resources on criminals who are already in prison or on local law enforcement officers. Critics say that without serious consequences, there is little to stanch the flow of illicit cellphones — and the cash that goes with them — into Texas prisons.