Federal authorities in South Texas say a four-year investigation into a prison smuggling ring started with the arrest of several gang members who were attempting to sell stolen vehicles to Mexican cartel members.
They say the ring included 17 former corrections officers and involved moving vehicles stolen in the Corpus Christi area.
They said Wednesday the scheme was coordinated by inmates using illegal cellphones inside the McConnell Unit outside Beeville. Prison guards sold the cellphones and drugs to inmates. Authorities say there was a culture of corruption at the unit. Beeville is about 50 miles north of Corpus Christi.
Twenty-nine of 32 people charged in the indictment are in custody. Thirteen of the former corrections officers face racketeering charges while the others were arrested on drug charges.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.