Police arrest 53 people in connection with prison drug rings

Operations code-named Gaston and Butterfly, photo: CTK

The Czech Police have joined forces with the National Anti-Drug Bureau and the Prison Services to crack down on drug dealers and stop drugs getting into the hands of prison inmates. Two operations code-named Gaston and Motylek, or Butterfly, appear to have brought real results. Dita Asiedu reports:

Operations code-named Gaston and Butterfly,  photo: CTK
Drug-taking in Czech jails is a huge problem, and the Czech authorities have launched a major campaign against the network of drug manufacturers, dealers and carriers, who keep prisoners supplied with drugs. Concentrating on Vinarice prison near Prague, notorious for the number of inmates testing positive for drugs, over fifty people have been arrested in the two police operations. Four secret laboratories have been uncovered and nearly 16000 doses of the Czech-produced amphetamine "pervitin" confiscated, as well as raw materials for producing the drugs. Vladimir Hrotik is police chief in the town of Kladno, close to Vinarice prison:

"Out of those arrested two are prison employees. Another is a former employee of the Vinarice prison and eleven are inmates. So far, we have proposed seven arrests, three of which are already being dealt with."

The extent to which prison staff and other people in responsible positions have been involved in the illicit trade is shocking. The National Anti-drug Bureau believes that drug manufacturers buy most of their raw ingredients from corrupt staff at the Drug Research Institute in the town of Roztoky near Prague, and one of the institute's employees has already been arrested.

Operations code-named Gaston and Butterfly,  photo: CTK
One drug ring is reported to have worked with the active help of a prison doctor and nurse. Police say that the doctor assisted in the drug deals by changing the records of the inmates who tested positive for drugs and issuing fake prescriptions. Another gang managed to smuggle the drugs with the help of food delivery men, who hid them in baked goods.

To drug dealers all these complications are well worth the effort, as prisoners are willing to pay about four times the black market price for a gram of pervitin. The money is usually exchanged outside the prison walls, through accomplices.

The Czech Justice Minister Pavel Rychetsky has pointed to a further factor facilitating communication between drug dealers and inmates. Despite being strictly forbidden, several mobile phones were found during the police operations at Vinarice. Mr Rychetsky says he will approach mobile operators to get them to jam mobile phone signals in prison areas.

The success of the two anti-drug operations is a feather in the cap of the Czech police force, but we will have to wait for some months to see whether they have brought real success. The drug rings in Vinarice Prison may prove to be just the tip of the iceberg.