Gangs in Dublin prisons making families pay up if inmates have mobile phones confiscated

Two Dublin prisons are among the worst offenders for mobile phone confiscation.

Prison gangs are making innocent loved ones pay up if an inmate using one of their mobile phones is caught by jail staff - writes

The thugs rent out cheap pay-as-you-go handsets but if they are confiscated, relatives on the outside are made to cough up extortionate amounts in “compensation”.

It is claimed there have been several incidents where prisoners’ families and partners have had visits from “heavies”.

The brutes are demanding as much as €300 – despite the phones seized only costing €10 – with Mountjoy and Wheatfield prisons in Dublin the main offenders.

A source told the Irish Mirror the gangs are demanding cash from the inmates and if they can’t get it they go looking for it from their families.

The source said: “These prison gangs rent out smuggled-in mobile phones to inmates for a set cost.

“That’s all fine and dandy but if they are caught using them the gangs demand they compensate them for their loss.

“The vast majority of these devices cost like €10 or €20 in the local supermarket. They’re the cheapest you can get. If an inmate is caughtand can’t pay the prison gang what they are looking for they find out where their family live on the outside and go looking for the money off them instead.

“And it’s not just for the €10 it cost to buy the handset, but €300.

“The way these gangs look at it is they are losing out on money from other inmates using it because it was confiscated.

“There has been talk around the prisons of this happening more than ever before. It’s a very frightening experience for the family involved.

“A lot of them don’t have the money these gangs are demanding and have to get hold of it any way they possibly can.”

(Image: Collins)

Latest figures on mobile phone seizures in Irish prisons showed there were 379 handsets confiscated from January to July 2017 across 13 jails.

Mountjoy had the highest number of confiscations at 163 followed by Midlands Prison in Portlaoise at 51, Dublin’s Wheatfield with 49, Limerick Prison on 39 and Castlerea in Co Roscommon with 31.

At the time the Irish Prison Service said stopping contraband from entering the system “remains a high priority”.

A spokesman added: “The introduction of passive and active drug detection dogs and the installation of airport-style security including scanners and X-ray machines has helped efforts to tackle the problem.

“Random searches of cells and their occupants have uncovered significant quantities of contraband in recent years.

“Nevertheless, the Irish Prison Service recognises constant improvements are required in this area.”

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