New body scanners coming to Miami-Dade as jails try to curb contraband
Authorities have arrested a longtime Miami-Dade corrections officer on allegations he received illegal payments to bring in at least one phone and contraband fast food into the Metro West Detention Center.
Gary West Alford, a 23-year veteran, was arrested Thursday along with his wife, Shantica Anastacia Alford, who police say helped him in the scheme. He was charged with unlawful compensation and introducing contraband into a county detention facility.
An inmate told investigators that he paid $500, through a smartphone app, to Shantica Alford for the delivery of McDonald’s Quarter Pounder hamburgers, and lemon-pepper chicken wings into the jail, prosecutors say.
The Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation department has vowed to crack down on contraband after three inmates died earlier this year after overdosing on drugs smuggled into jails.
The department recently introduced airport-style body scanners to search inmates for contraband. The scanners, however, cannot be used on corrections officers because a state administrative rule bans their use on employees.
According to an arrest warrant, a sergeant with Miami-Dade Corrections’ internal affairs unit got a tip from a confidential source that Alford had been bringing in contraband. The source, an inmate, asked Alford to smuggle in a cellphone for $1,000.
His brother “Pete” would deliver him the money and phone, the warrant said. Pete was actually undercover Miami-Dade detective Dennis Delgado, who began texting and calling Alford to make arrangements, according to the warrant.
The detective met with the couple at a Hialeah Walmart, giving Gary Alford the phone and the $1,000. The phone was later tracked to the detention center — where Alford gave it to the cooperating inmate, police said.
He even gave the inmate a screwdriver to make a hole in the wall to hide the phone, according to the warrant by Miami-Dade Police public corruption detective Robert Miller.
“We are saddened that the actions of one employee could tarnish the good work of the proud men and women of MDCR who dedicate their lives to ensuring the safety of the public,” the corrections department said in a statement.