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9 accused of smuggling drugs, phones into New Jersey jail

FBI agents recently took nine people into custody on federal charges of conspiring to provide contraband to inmates at the Essex County Correctional Facility, a federal pretrial detention center. Authorities allege that the nine individuals, including two corrections officers and a former Essex County prosecutor, took part in an illicit operation in which mobile phones and drugs were smuggled into the detention center in exchange for cash bribes.

All of the accused individuals face up to five years in prison if convicted on the contraband charges. They also face up to $350,000 in fines for smuggling marijuana and cellphones.

Authorities allege that one of the accused corrections officers, a 26-year-old man, smuggled marijuana, tobacco and phones into ECCF on at least five separate occasions. In exchange for cash, the corrections officer delivered the contraband to a 29-year-old male inmate, who sold the items to other inmates, according to authorities.

The approach that the lawyers for these nine people take depends on the type of evidence with which prosecutors plan to win convictions. For example, if the evidence involves the testimonies of other inmates, the lawyers could call into question the truthfulness of the convicts' statements. This may discredit the evidence and hurt the prosecution's case.

If the evidence consists of the actual marijuana and cellphone contraband, the lawyers might request that the evidence be present in court. This is a tactic that some lawyers use to take advantage of evidence that is mishandled or misplaced while being processed. If the evidence cannot be found so as to be presented in court, the lawyer may make a motion to have the charges dismissed due to a lack of evidence.

Source: CBS New York, "9 Accused In Drug Smuggling Ring At Essex County Correctional Facility", May 28, 2014