Corruption crackdown nets 46 US prison officers

Nearly 50 prison officers were arrested in the southern US state of Georgia after authorities raided several penitentiaries in a crackdown on corruption and smuggling (AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards)

Miami (AFP) - Nearly 50 prison officers were arrested in the southern US state of Georgia Thursday after authorities raided several penitentiaries in a crackdown on corruption and smuggling.

The officers are charged with a range of crimes, from accepting bribes to drug trafficking, according to John Horn, US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

A total of 46 corrections officers were arrested and two civilians and one prisoner were also charged during the operation which took place across nine prisons, he said.

"Our work is nowhere near finished, these are systemic problems," he added.

The investigation was at first focused on the smuggling of cell phones into prisons until authorities found numerous other irregularities and expanded their probe, according to Horn.

"It is truly troubling that so many corrections officers from across the state of Georgia could be so willing to sell their oaths, to sell their badges for personal profit to benefit and protect purported drug transactions," Horn said.

Nearly 200 agents searched the prisons and made the arrests Thursday, he added.

Since September, Georgia authorities have charged more than 100 people in a campaign to clear state prisons of corruption, drug trafficking and smuggling, especially of cell phones.