September 11, 2009
A Jessup correctional officer was arrested on federal drug charges, revealing a sweeping effort to wipe out one of Maryland's most notorious gangs through related racketeering indictments.
Alicia Simmons, 34, was accused of smuggling cell phones and heroin into prison for incarcerated members of the powerful Black Guerrilla Family, which court documents say has used such connections for years to live luxuriously behind bars and maintain mafioso-type control of its widespread criminal organization. Simmons is the fifth Maryland prison guard implicated in the far-reaching scheme, which goes back to 2006 and includes a total of 37 defendants charged since last year.
But court papers unsealed after Simmons' arrest show that 14 BGF members also face fresh racketeering charges from a new federal indictment, meaning that each of the alleged gang members could be held responsible for their comrades' crimes if convicted.
"This is the most powerful tool we have in our federal toolbox to prosecute" criminal organizations, Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said during a news conference to announce the charges.
His office has already used racketeering laws to prosecute local members of the Bloods, Latin Kings and MS-13 gangs en masse, "And today," Rosenstein said, "we add Black Guerrilla Family to that list."