Federal investigators reportedly founded a loaded gun that had been smuggled into the jail where convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein killed himself. Epstein's suicide had long been a focus of conspiracy theorists who believed that the late billionaire did not kill himself, and the newest findings -- which again appear to show a lack of security -- have a chance to add to their case.
According to the Associated Press, the gun was found last week at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan following the prison's seven-day inspection for contraband. The search was initiated about officials received a tip that the weapon had been brought into the facility.
The weeklong lockdown included a thorough investigation "in order to protect the public, staff and inmates until a comprehensive search could be completed," the agency said in a statement. Officials managed to find the gun in addition to numerous other banned items, such as cellphones, narcotics, and homemade weapons.
"All of these items pose a significant threat to the safety and security of the facility as well as the public," the agency added.
The findings suggested a huge breach in protocol, not only raising concerns about the security practices in place at the prison but also sparking a criminal probe.
According to three individuals familiar with the matter, federal prosecutors have begun a criminal investigation into the apparent guard misconduct, in light of the numerous contraband items found at the prison. However, the sources could not give any more details about the case and asked to remain anonymous.
Authorities did not say where the gun was found or how it had been smuggled into the facility. In addition, prosecutors are reportedly working to figure out how all of the contraband had managed to pass security measures. The Bureau of Prisons said that the Justice Department's inspector general and the FBI are aware of the findings.
"The BOP is committed to the safety of staff, inmates and the public while continuing to ensure that those responsible for misconduct and criminal activity are held accountable," the statement concluded.
The jail had previously been described as one of the most secure in the country, housing around 175,000 federal inmates.
During the lockdown, inmates were not able to talk with their lawyers, which the executive director and chief attorney of the Federal Defenders of New York claimed was a violation of their rights.
The allegedly lax security measures have also added fuel to the speculation that Epstein did not hang himself. According to Business Insider, around 45 percent of Americans believe that he was murdered, buoyed by the fact that leading doctors have claimed that his corpse showed signs consistent with "manual strangulation," per The Inquisitr.