Prisoners in an Atlanta Prison have been sneaking out and back into the prison with contraband for years, a federal complaint reports. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that this sneaking out and back in has been going on for years in the minimum-security prison that is adjacent to the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta.
The federal complaint reports prisoners leaving the prison through holes in the fence and sneaking back in with contraband such as cigarettes, alcohol, cellphones and possibly even weapons including handguns. The Atlanta Police Department has apparently been investigating this since January 2013. But last month, a hole was spotted in the fence that was deemed big enough for an adult man to fit through. After this, the Atlanta Police Department decided to put a camera to record any possible activities. The APD then handed the video over to FBI, who hold jurisdiction over the federal prison.
FBI Special Agent James Hosty reported in a federal complaint that the video showed inmates escaping from the prison premises in order to bring back large backs containing contraband. Some of the inmates even got into cars waiting for them on New Town Circle to drive away from and back to the prison.
The report tells that last Friday, officials from the FBI and the APD were camped out of the prison, when a prisoner, Justin Stinson, escaped from the hole in the fence. He was caught trying to fetch a big sack bag containing two cartons of Newport cigarettes, four boxes of Black and Mild cigars and two 1.75 liters of Jose Cuervo tequila, possibly with the intention of smuggling it back into the prison. Stinson had been serving a sentence for possession of an illegal firearm and was scheduled to be released on December 7, 2018. After being caught sneaking out of the prison last Friday, he now faces fresh new charges of escape.
The federal complaint regarding the matter was filed on Saturday. It detailed how the inmates would escape and sneak back into the prison with contraband in a matter of minutes. Some of these contraband such as tobacco, alcohol and food are brought in to be sold illegally to other inmates while cellphones are used to contact witnesses and other criminals while still locked up inside the prison.
Hosty wrote the following in the federal complaint.
“Since in or about January 2013, the Atlanta Police Department … has been investigating instances of inmates temporarily escaping from the prison camp at USP Atlanta and frequently returning to the camp with contraband.”
He cites an example from January 29, 2013, when an APD police officer saw a car parked near the fence with men inside dressed in gray jumpsuits and wearing ski masks. When the police officer went to investigate, the three men climbed the fence and fled into USP Atlanta. The police officer found “a large quantity of bottled alcohol, 24 cell phones and two loaded handguns” inside the car and several green army bags near the fences. After further investigations, APD officers found prison-issue gloves, a prison-issued laundry bag, an MP3 player and several trash bags near the holes in the fence along New Town Circle.
There are no reports as to what happened between January 29, 2013, and January 18, 2017, when officials finally decided to install surveillance cameras to monitor the activity in the area. The FBI, the APD and the United States Bureau of Prisons have all declined to comment on these reports because it is an ongoing investigation.
The United States Penitentiary in Atlanta is a large complex which at one time used to be a maximum security facility holding high-profile criminals such as the likes of Chicago gangster Al Capone. The prison was almost closed in the 1970s but was later used to hold Cuban refugees. After a riot in 1987, President Ronald Reagan’s administration decided to deport the detainees back to Cuba.
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