65158904.jpgInmates pay to get narcotics and other contraband through deputies. Baca says guards’ financial hardships are usually involved.

By Robert Faturechi and Jack Leonard

Los Angeles County jail inmates have used corrupt guards to penetrate tight security at lockups, helping fuel a lucrative drug trade behind bars, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The Times.

Three sheriff’s guards have been convicted and a fourth fired in recent years for smuggling or attempting to smuggle narcotics into jail for inmates. Sheriff’s investigators are probing allegations that at least three more deputies took drugs or other contraband into the jails.

The porous nature of the jails was highlighted last week when The Times revealed that FBI agents conducted an undercover sting in which a deputy was accused of taking $1,500 to smuggle a cellphone to an inmate working as a federal informant. Federal authorities are investigating reports of brutality and other misconduct by deputies in the nation’s largest jail system.

The full scope of the smuggling problem is hard to quantify. The Sheriff’s Department has seen a significant increase in drug seizures across county lockups over the last few years, but it’s impossible to know how much of that involves guards.

Continue Reading: latimes.com