Tuesday 20 August 2019

Gangs use flaming socks to smuggle drugs into prisons

Method: Drugs being thrown over the perimeter wall of Wheatfield Prison from adjacent waste ground
Method: Drugs being thrown over the perimeter wall of Wheatfield Prison from adjacent waste ground
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

Criminal gangs are using flaming socks as part of their latest tactic to smuggle drugs and phones into Irish prisons.

The bizarre method has become increasingly popular with criminals attempting to drop contraband into one particular Dublin jail and has been used several times in recent weeks.

The flaming socks are used to burn a hole in security netting inside the prison, before dropping the package into the yard. Staff at Mountjoy Prison, where the method has been used regularly, are now attempting to crack down on the latest method used by criminals to smuggle drugs into prisons.

It follows the increased use of drones over the past 18 months to drop illegal drugs and phones into facilities.

The use of flaming socks had been described as "sporadic" in previous years, but in recent weeks has become a popular way to smuggle contraband.

"Criminals on the outside, who are quite clearly acting on instructions from inmates, pack whatever they are attempting to smuggle - be it drugs, a phone or whatever illegal item," a source said.

"A substance like masking tape is used to stop the contraband from catching fire," they added.

"It's then wrapped in a sock, which is doused in petrol and set alight. The sock is then thrown over the wall and lands on the security netting, burning a hole in the net, and dropping into the yard.

"It's a fairly basic method and has become increasingly popular in recent weeks, and is quite effective."

The source said: "Drones were being used on a weekly basis and prison staff were clamping down on this.

"Criminals don't take long to adapt and now flaming socks are the latest way of getting contraband in."

While the use of flaming socks has been a popular method in recent weeks, flaming tennis balls have also been used in a similar manner in the past.

The approach has also become popular in UK prisons in previous months, where flaming socks are used to burn a hole in security nets to allow for drones to pass through.

Prison officials across the country have been clamping down on the use of drones to import drugs into jails.

In a single week in March of this year, some 50 packets of drugs and other contraband were delivered by drone or thrown into Wheatfield Prison.

In an 18-month period, six drones were recovered by the Irish Prison Service in locations around the country, after failed attempts to drop contraband into jail yards.

In one attempt, drugs were stuffed into the plastic capsules used to hold small toys inside chocolate eggs.

One prisoner climbed up a steel fence in a bid to get them, but he cut his hands on the razor wire. He did not succeed in getting to the package, which was later taken down by staff.

The efforts of prison staff to control the situation led to a confrontation in the yard.

Earlier this month, prison officers carried out a major operation against mob boss Wayne Dundon and recovered an 'Aladdin's cave' of illegal contraband.

The major haul included body cameras, recording devices, hacksaws, steroids, EpiPens and an Amazon Fire stick.

It has led to Dundon being placed on 23-hour lockdown in Mountjoy.

Irish Independent

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