$60,000 in contraband found hidden in SC prison equipment

January 30, 2020 GMT

McCORMICK, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina prison officials found dozens of contraband cellphones and earbuds and more than 32 pounds (14 kilograms) of tobacco and marijuana hidden in a piece of construction equipment, officials said.

Officers searching the piece of equipment being taken into McCormick Correctional Institution discovered the secret panel with the $60,000 stash of contraband before any of it made it into the hands of inmates, the Corrections Department said on Twitter.

In all, prison guards found 32 smartphones, 27 pounds (12 kilograms) of tobacco, 5 pounds (2 kilograms) of marijuana, 33 chargers, 31 USB plugs, 17 sets of Bluetooth earbuds, 47 lighters, a half-gallon of liquor and other assorted items., officials said.

All the items are illegal to have in prisons.

Corrections Director Bryan Stirling wants to jam cellphone signals, but hasn’t been able to get the federal government to change anti-jamming laws. So instead, prisons have added netting so stuff can’t be tossed over prison fences and more sensitive scanners for visitors.

“I think the people trying to sneak in contraband are looking for other avenues,” Stirling told The Greenwood Index-Journal. “That’s why we check all vehicles coming in through the facility’s gates thoroughly.”