Prison officials help criminal sell drugs from behind bars

By Modern Express – Global Times Source:Global Times Published: 2015-9-20 19:58:01

Changsha Intermediate People's Court in Hunan Province hears a drug trafficking case in July, 2014. Photo: CFP

A convict who was serving his life sentence in Hunan Province was discovered selling illegal drugs from behind bars, which led to nine prison officers being punished for neglecting their duties and receiving bribes.

The case came to light in 2014 and involved the sale of over 5 kilograms of cannabis. Zhejiang Province police found that a prisoner surnamed Gu who was locked up in Hunan's Chishan Prison was dealing drugs during a broader investigation into drug trafficking, the Nanjing-based Modern Express reported.

Gu was sentenced to imprisonment for life for selling drug and had lived in cells in different zones in the prison.

In June 2012, Gu asked the head of the third zone in the prison, surnamed Ren, to arrange a meeting for him with his friend surnamed Lu. A prison officer gave him the green light, and Gu and Lu were allowed to talk for about half an hour alone.

It was at this point that the two decided to start selling drugs, with Gu responsible for contacting buyers and suppliers by phone and Lu responsible for handling the cannabis.

Soon after their meeting, Gu was moved to a cell in a different zone and the deputy head of that zone, surnamed Qi, allowed Gu to operate his illegal business from his office.

Qi did not only allow Gu to use his office and use electronic communication devices, but he also allowed him to change the office's lock.

According to the court, Gu sold and transported at least 5 kilograms of cannabis between December 2013 and March 2014.

The deputy head of Chishan Prison's hospital surnamed Liu also assisted Gu. Liu took care of Gu's bank card and would take money out of the bank for Gu. He also violated prison regulations and helped Gu top up his phone and brought items such as groceries, cigarettes and clothes to Gu's cell.

Ren led a meeting of prison officials and approved Gu's application for a reduced sentence.

On August 22, last year, Gu and Lu were transferred to the TaizhouPeople's Procuratorate in Zhejiang Province for prosecution.

Between August 2014 and August 2015, nine prison officers were arrested.

Four of them were given sentences ranging from one year to four years for receiving bribes, neglecting duties and abusing of power.

A string of scandals

The Chishan Prison is not the first prison to be rocked by this kind of scandal this year.

In August, five police officers were found guilty of neglecting their duties after a convict, named Huang Xiaochun, sold drugs from a detention center in Jiangxi Province.

Huang was given three and a half years behind bars by a local court in December 2010 for dealing drugs but was illegally allowed to serve his sentence in a detention center instead of a legal prison.

During his detention, Huang illegally obtained a cell phone and laptop, and continued selling drugs with the help of five police officers.

"Supervision loopholes are often found in prisons that are located in poor and rural areas. These prisons are far from the provincial supervision organs, and because prisoners always stay with the same group of officers, it is easy for them to develop corrupt relationships, such as helping the prisoners obtain cell phones and groceries, and even commit crimes," Li Danyang, a research fellow with the Beihang University, told the Global Times.

In January, the justice department of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province revealed details of a case in which a prisoner used smartphones to blackmail several women.

"In order to reduce similar scandals, the supervision system should be strengthened while a punishment mechanism should be established and rigorously enforced to create a deterrent effect," Li said, adding that the prison management authorities should check on local prisons on a regular basis.

Newspaper headline: Incarcerated scarface

Posted in: Law

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