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Warders hit drugs route into Mountjoy

Prison staff have cut off a main route for contraband into Mountjoy Jail.

A perimeter track inside the walls of the prison was identified as the collection point for contraband coming into the jail.

The area was put under special observation and the secret trail for mobile phones and other contraband was revealed.

This led to the discovery of five mobile phones, chargers and other related material as well as a stash of cannabis resin last Monday.

The area is located beside the newly reopened segregation unit, to which several trustee prisoners engaged in cleaning duties have access. Prison sources said the area is where the old back gate of the jail was located and is close to a canal.

There is no access for general prisoners to this area but it can be used by the trustee prisoners en route to stores for various supplies.

"There are only five or six metres between the unit and the back wall and unlike the recreation area it is not covered by mesh to protect consignments coming over," said an officer.

"There are up to 50 people engaged in general duties like cleaning and they would have access to this area.They could go out there first thing in the morning to empty rubbish or whatever and collect a pre-arranged delivery of contraband.

"Then it would be a simple matter of concealing it in a bucket or under an armful of toilet rolls."

Two men were identified as being involved in the smuggling operation but staff believe they were not the beneficiaries of the phones or drugs.

"Those involved in cleaning duties would not be serious criminals but it is more than likely they were acting under duress from some of the more dangerous inmates," said a senior officer.

However, it is understood that they have been quizzed and may face transfer to another prison, internal disciplinary charges or charges before the District Court.

Gardai at Mountjoy Station examine all phones discovered in the jail in a bid to establish those receiving and making the calls.

Almost five phones a day were found on average in Irish prisons last year.

The total discovered was 1,718, with Mountjoy topping the list at 742.

In 2009, a total of 2,174 phones were found, compared with 2,047 in the previous year.

Mountjoy Prison's figure was down from 904 in 2009.