Recently, two corrections officers with Riker’s Island prison in New York City were arrested and charged with dealing illegal drugs to inmates. The guards, both 31 years old, were arrested and charged with drug trafficking by Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officials after they were allegedly observed dealing drugs to inmates. The two men were also accused of smuggling scalpels to prisoners for use as weapons. According to law enforcement, the guards ordered drugs for the inmates through an intermediary, usually a wife or a girlfriend of the inmate. Over 30 correctional officers have been arrested in connection with drug trafficking over the past decade. Both officers in this case face a sentence of up to ten years in prison.

This case is an example of an alleged abuse of power by law enforcement officers. Rather than keep inmates away from negative influences that may encourage criminal behavior, the officers were encouraging it by smuggling illegal drugs to inmates. This type of behavior subverts the purpose of the institution they were serving, and undermines the credibility of law enforcement.

Drug trafficking involves the sale and distribution of illegal narcotics to customers. This offense is typically punished with a three to five year prison sentence, and is punished at the state and federal level, with many state laws being modeled after federal statutes. The severity of the sentence is determined by factors such as the type of drug sold and the geographic area of distribution, as well as whether or not children were targeted for sale.

Anyone accused of drug possession or drug trafficking is entitled to a vigorous criminal defense and a presumption of innocence until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendants are constitutionally entitled to question witnesses, dispute the admissibility of evidence, and challenge the constitutionality of the charges. They may also have the contraband excluded if it is found to be the result of an illegal search or seizure. Anyone accused of drug trafficking need not plead guilty and throw away their future needlessly, but has the right to seek a vindication of their innocence in a court of law.

Source: NBC New York, “2 Rikers Officers charged with Dealing Drugs to Inmates,” Jonathan Dienst, June 18, 2013.