Move to eradicate prison contraband

ARMED gardaí swooped on houses and prisons in the midlands yesterday in a bid to thwart the smuggling of drugs and mobile phones behind bars.

Two prison officers from Portlaoise Prison were arrested after jail lockers and homes were searched.

Raids took place on nine houses, five belonging to jail guards, as well as Portlaoise Prison and the Midlands Prison.

Searches began at 6am and by 11am yesterday gardaí reported a number of arrests and drug finds had taken place.

Concern was raised about the smuggling of contraband into jails earlier this year. Justice Minister Brian Lenihan pledged to roll out special search teams and a drug sniffer dog unit to help remove the scourge of drugs behind bars.

Gardaí said yesterday’s operation saw two men, aged 34 and 37, arrested and held in Newbridge Garda Station, Kildare.

Searches of cells revealed little and it is believed the contraband and other items were found in homes and prison staff facilities.

The garda operation took five hours and follows arrests of other prison officers earlier this year.

Three male prison officers were arrested in March, suspected of smuggling mobile phones into prisons to help jailed crime bosses control gangs.

Meanwhile, separate searches took place in Tallaght on Thursday in which gardaí found amounts of cocaine, cannabis herb and ecstasy valued at around €420,000.

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