Prison protection-for-soup scheme broken up in Pr. George's: Source
In its heyday, the Mob was known for running so-called protection schemes, in which small business owners were told to pay "protection" money, sometimes known as "rent" -- or else.
It seems some inmates at the Prince George's County Jail in Upper Marlboro were trying a similar scheme. Last week, according to a jail source, 19 inmates affiliated with a gang tried to charge other inmates "rent," said the source, who declined to be identified because he is not authorized to grant interviews.
Since inmates don't carry cash, the source said, the aggressors were leaning on fellow inmates to give up commissary items.
"They'd tell the other inmates to give up their cartons of soup," the source said. Inmates who didn't play ball would be threatened: pay up, or take a beating, the source said.
The alleged shakedowns occurred in two housing units, the source said. In response, he said, jail officials on Thursday moved the 19 inmates to a housing unit known as H-5 -- the lockdown unit. In the lockdown unit, inmates are locked into their cells 23 out of 24 hours a day.
John Erzen, a county spokesman, declined to discuss details of the alleged scheme. "We're continually moving inmates around if we feel there is a potential for trouble," Erzen said. "That's just good correctional facility management."
No inmates were hurt during the alleged commissary crime, Erzen and the source said.
The Post has reported on other gang-related activity at the prison in the past. Last June, inmate DeAndre Wilson was badly beaten after, officials said, a guard "inadvertently" opened a cell door and another inmate -- an alleged gang member -- yanked Wilson out of his cell and beat him.
-- Ruben Castaneda
January 12, 2010; 2:21 PM ET
Categories: Pr. George's , Ruben Castaneda
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