02-26-2020  11:38 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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'A World of Hurt': 39 States to Investigate JUUL's Marketing

Oregon is one of five states leading a bipartisan coalition looking into JUUL’s targeting of youth vaping

US Appeals Court Upholds Trump Rules Involving Abortions

The 7-4 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned decisions issued by judges in Washington, Oregon and California

Jeremy Christian Guilty of Killing 2 Who Tried to Stop His Slurs on Max

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States Step Up Funding for Planned Parenthood Clinics

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State and Federal Agencies Aid Sunken Tugboat in Columbia River

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Multnomah County Promotes Voter Education Project

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New Travel Ban Takes Effect, National Groups Respond

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Harris, Booker Applaud House For Announcing Vote on Anti-Lynching Legislation

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Laugh Yourself Clean Recovery Comedy Show to be Held March 20 in Portland

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Pendleton gets jumi.8M emergency loan for flood-damaged levee

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0M homelessness tax measure on Portland-area May ballot

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Black America is Facing a Housing Crisis

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Trump Expands Muslim Ban to Target Africans

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Martin Luther King Day is an Opportunity for Service

Find out where you can volunteer and make a difference to the community ...

Looking to 2020 — Put Your Vote to WORK!

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Neo-Nazi leaders face conspiracy charges on both coasts

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — Leaders of a neo-Nazi group have been arrested and charged in a pair of federal investigations with conspiring to harass journalists, churches and a former Cabinet official, among others, with phony bomb threats and other forms of intimidation.John C. Denton, 26, of...

Female coaches say they were punished for raising concerns

Former women's volleyball coaches say they were punished for raising concerns about unequal treatment of female athletes and coaches at two South Carolina universities.The allegations are outlined in federal lawsuits filed this month in U.S. District Court.In one case, former Charleston Southern...

Louisiana governor: Judge should resign after racial slurs

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards called Wednesday on a Louisiana judge to step down after she admitted to using racial slurs in angry text messages. The Democratic governor said the “state deserves better.” Edwards said in a statement that District Judge Jessie...


Review: An unlikely friendship is at the heart of 'Burden'

It was only a matter of time before Hollywood came calling to adapt the real-life events surrounding a museum in South Carolina that celebrated the Ku Klux Klan.The museum opened in the mid-1990s, prompting protests. One of the Klansmen eventually had a change of heart and hands the deed to the...

Jude Law among narrators of 'Beedle the Bard' audiobook

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ABC's 'For Life' hopes to change the way we see network TV

NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Nicholas Pinnock doesn't just believe his new network TV show can save lives. He believes it can save network TV, too.Pinnock stars in “For Life,” ABC's mid-season drama about a prison inmate unjustly incarcerated who becomes a lawyer. Social justice...


Spain cancels Plácido Domingo´s part in two opera dates

MADRID (AP) — The Spanish government has canceled the participation of tenor Plácido Domingo in...

Managing remote workers? It takes more than the latest apps

NEW YORK (AP) — Nicolas Vandenberghe's company has 42 staffers scattered among 36 cities in 15 countries....

Sharapova retires from tennis at age 32 with 5 Slam titles

Maria Sharapova was a transcendent star in tennis from the time she was a teenager, someone whose grit and...

Egypt holds full-honors military funeral for Mubarak

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt held a full-honors military funeral Wednesday for the country's former autocratic...

Death toll rises to 24 from Delhi riots during Trump trip

NEW DELHI (AP) — At least 24 people were killed and 189 injured in three days of clashes in New Delhi that...

Virus fears keep guests trapped in sunny 'luxurious prison'

MADRID (AP) — They signed up for a bit of a beach holiday to break up the winter. Instead, hundreds of...

Debra Goldschmidt and Catherine E. Shoichet CNN

(CNN) -- How were inmates inside a Texas prison allegedly able to make cell phone calls, plot crimes and acquire drugs?

With the help of 17 former corrections officers who once worked at the prison, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed this week.

Now the former officers and 12 others have been arrested and charged with racketeering after a four-year investigation authorities dubbed Operation Prison Cell.

The former guards are accused of involvement in a smuggling scheme that undermined the justice system, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson told reporters Wednesday.

"Prison is a place where inmates are supposed to do their time," he said, "not where they do their crime."

Using the cell phones guards smuggled in, prison inmates orchestrated and facilitated killings, home invasions and drug trafficking, said Angela Dodge, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The indictment released Wednesday accuses 13 former corrections officers of smuggling cell phones into the McConnell Unit Prison in Beeville, Texas, about 200 miles southwest of Houston.

"The employees supplied the phones, knowing the inmates would use the phones to conduct illegal activities," the indictment says.

A four-year investigation into the "culture of corruption" at the prison began after authorities caught gang members trying to transport stolen cars that were destined for Mexican cartel members across the border, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas said Wednesday.

Prison inmates using illegal cell phones were behind the thwarted attempt to move the stolen cars into Mexico, prosecutors said.

Nationwide, the smuggling of contraband cell phones into prisons is a growing problem, the U.S. General Accountability Office said in a 2011 report, noting that the number of smuggled phones seized had quadrupled in a three-year period.

In 2007 an inmate at a Maryland detention center ordered the murder of a witness to his crimes using a contraband phone, the report said.

And in 2008, a death row inmate in a Texas state prison used a cell phone to threaten a state senator and his family.

This month's indictment doesn't detail how much money guards at the McConnell Unit Prison allegedly received in exchange for the cell phones.

But in 2009, one top Texas investigator told CNN that a smuggled cell phone could fetch as much as $2,000.

In the McConnell Unit Prison, authorities said Wednesday that rampant corruption had festered since 2005.

Thirteen of the former guards arrested are charged with racketeering, and four face drug charges, Dodge said.

In total, authorities have arrested 29 people in connection with the alleged scheme. Three others are still at large, Dodge said.

Now, authorities said, some of the former correction officers who once guarded the Texas prison are behind bars themselves.

CNN's Dave Alsup and Carol Cratty contributed to this report.


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