Federal, state agents, troopers at prison for ‘show of force'

by: Kathryn Burcham Updated:

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ANSON COUNTY, N.C. - State prison officials initiated a “security procedure” at Lanesboro Correctional Institution today following a rash of gang-related violence and crime, according to authorities.

FBI and SBI agents questioned prison staff for hours about a flow of illegal contraband into the prison, including illegal cellphones that experts said gang members use to organize criminal activity.

“In my opinion it's just like having a firearm outside the prison. If you've got an inmate that's got a cellphone, he can call shots,” said Polkton Police Chief Matthew Norris.

Polkton Police said they have received numerous reports of prison staff members or their family members being threatened by inmates.

“An officer was chased by a vehicle that he said he knew was a known gang member of an inmate that was inside the prison,” said Norris, but said investigators were never able to make an arrest.

Sources confirmed the multi-jurisdictional investigation was put into high gear in November 2013 after a prison sergeant known for her tough attitude on contraband was stabbed in the throat with a razor and nearly died.

“We continuously have situations where staff are victims of assaultive type behavior, and that’s why all of this is being looked into,” said NCDPS spokeswoman Pamela Walker.

Sources told Eyewitness News some of the gang-related activity is tied to Urban Blood Nation, the same gang authorities said organized the kidnapping of Frank Janssen, the father of a district attorney in Wake County who was prosecuting gang members.

“That type of situation certainly gives us a heightened awareness to the potential,” Walker said.