On Wednesday, July 28, 2010, investigators with the Washington County Drug Task Force and Jackson County Drug Task Force conducted an investigation into the illegal smuggling of contraband into GEO Prison in Graceville, Florida.
During the morning hours of July 28, 2010 investigators utilized a confidential informant to deliver 6 cellular telephones to Tyler Bradford Daniel in Graceville. Daniels is a certified correctional officer employed at GEO Prison. The cell phones were delivered to Daniels. It was Daniels’ intent to smuggle the cell phones into GEO Prison and to deliver them to an inmate that is incarcerated at the correctional facility.
On the afternoon of July 28, 2010 surveillance was maintained on Daniels as he departed his residence traveling to work at GEO. A traffic stop was conducted on Daniel’s vehicle on Cloverdale Road near Graceville before he could reach GEO.
A search of Daniels’ vehicle revealed two bundles wrapped heavily in black electrical tape. Each of the bundles contained three cell phones. The phones were the ones that he been delivered to him by the confidential informant earlier that morning.
During the investigation it was determined that Daniels had received the cell phones for the purpose of smuggling them into GEO for an inmate. It was determined that Daniels’ had a prepaid cellular telephone that he utilized to communicate with inmates at GEO Prison to arrange deliveries of contraband to the facility. The prepaid cellular telephone was later located at Daniels’ residence along with a letter from an inmate at GEO and other contact numbers for other inmates at the prison.
It was also determined that Daniels’ was expecting a package of marijuana to be delivered to his residence located at 4645 Canary Road, Graceville. The marijuana was being sent to Daniels’ so that he could smuggle it into the prison as well. Inspectors with the United States Postal Service were contacted and with their assistance the package was intercepted before its delivery.
Daniels was supposed to receive $1000 per package to deliver the cellular phones and marijuana to the inmate. Further investigation revealed that the payment was to be sent to Daniels girlfriend, Kimber Lee Chambliss, via Money Gram.
The inmate at GEO Prison who was Daniels’ contact was identified as Benjamin Smith. Smith is serving a life sentence at GEO stemming from charges of Robbery, Burglary and Car Jacking all involving a firearm. Smith advised that he had made the agreement with Daniels to smuggle in the cell phones and marijuana. Smith advised that he had been in contact with Daniels’ on numerous occasions both in person at the prison and on the telephone. Smith advised that after he received the deliveries of contraband he was instructed by Daniels’ to have $1000 sent to Daniels’ girlfriend, Chambliss.
Information was also developed during the investigation that another correctional officer, Matthew Tyler Crawford, was to assist Daniels in his efforts to smuggle the contraband into the prison by helping him bypass the metal detector and searches at the front door of the facility as they arrived at work. Crawford had made contact with Inmate Smith and obtained a number on Daniels behalf. The number Crawford received from Smith was the shipping number on the package of marijuana being mailed to Daniels. Crawford had knowledge of Daniels’ plan and knew that the number he received from Smith was involved in the contraband smuggling organization. For his involvement Crawford was to receive $300.
Contact was made with Crawford at GEO Prison on the evening of July 28, 2010 while working a shift at the facility. Crawford was placed under arrest on the charge of Conspiracy to Introduce Contraband into a Secure Facility for the cellular telephones.
Daniels was also placed under arrest on July 28, 2010 on the charges of 2 counts of Conspiracy to Introduce Contraband into a Secure Facility for the cellular phones and marijuana and Attempt to Introduce Contraband into a Secure Facility for the cellular phones. Chambliss was arrested on July 29, 2010 charged with 2 counts of Conspiracy to Introduce Contraband into a Secure Facility for the cellular phones and marijuana.
Conspiracy to introduce cellular phones and attempt to introduce cellular phones are third degree felonies and conspiracy to introduce marijuana is a second-degree felony.
Since the arrests of Daniels, Crawford, and Chambliss, prison staff at GEO prison have located two illegal cellular phones located inside the prison.
Daniels’ and Crawford have both been placed on suspension from GEO Prison pending the outcome of this investigation.
Cellular telephone and drugs are in high demand inside prisons and are considered to be extremely valuable to inmates. Many acts of violence that occur in prisons are a direct result of contraband, which produce increasing threats to not only other inmates but correctional officers and other prison employees as well. Cellular phones have become increasingly popular in prisons because they give inmates unsecured connections to the outside world, which produce threats to the friends and families of correctional officers and law enforcement. Also, phones allow inmates to continue their criminal enterprise and conduct business as usual. This could involve crimes related to drugs, assaults and even murder. Potential targets of these crimes could be witnesses involved in their cases, defense and prosecuting attorneys, and the victims of their crimes. Cell phones in prison could directly endanger the community by allowing prisoners the opportunity to plot, plan and carry out their escape unbeknown to the prison staff.
The half-pound of marijuana Daniels was to attempt to smuggle in is valued at approximately $10,000 inside a correctional institution. The marijuana and its value inside a correctional institution have potential to endanger staff and inmates.
The Jackson County Drug Task Force is the combined effort of the Cottondale, Graceville and Marianna Police Departments, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office including the Proactive Criminal Enforcement Unit/PACE.