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Press Release

Guard, Inmates Charged with Smuggling Drugs into CCA Leavenworth Detention Center

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Kansas

KANSAS CITY, KAN. - U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom Monday announced federal charges alleging a guard joined with two inmates and four people outside prison to smuggle methamphetamine, synthetic marijuana, and alcohol and cigarettes to inmates in the CCA Leavenworth Detention Center.

The Leavenworth Detention Center is a detention facility with 1,126 beds located at 100 Highway Terrace in Leavenworth, Kan. It is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a private company that contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service.

A criminal complaint filed Sunday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., alleges the conspirators built an elaborate system for getting contraband into the prison and moving money from inmates behind bars to a man outside the prison who obtained the contraband that he gave to the guard to smuggle into the prison. Outside the prison, inmates’ friends and family members participated by helping to move money from buyers to sellers by wire transfers and other means.

“The criminal complaint alleges that inside the prison methamphetamine and other contraband was delivered to inmates during meetings of the 12 Step Program, in the prison library and during church services,” Grissom said. 

Federal charges in the criminal complaint include:

  • Conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (count one).

  • Providing methamphetamine to CCA inmates (count two).

  • Providing synthetic marijuana to CCA inmates (count three).

  • Providing tobacco products to CCA inmates (count four).

  • Possessing methamphetamine in CCA (count five).

  • Possessing synthetic marijuana in CCA (count six).

  • Possessing tobacco products in CCA (count seven).

The following defendants are charged:

  • Anthon Aiono , 28, Platte City, Mo., a correctional officer at CCA: counts one, two, three and four.

  • Stephen Rowlette, 35, an inmate at CCA: Counts one, five, six and seven.

  • Karl Carter, 41, an inmate at CCA: Counts one, five, six and seven.

  • David Bishop, also known as Mr. Green, 68, Sedalia, Mo.: Counts one, two, three and four.

  • Alica Tackett, 29, Independence, Mo., Stephen Rowlette’s wife: Counts three and four.

  • Catherine Rowlette, 59,Sedalia, Mo., mother of Stephen Rowlette: Counts one, two, three and four.

Among the allegations in the criminal complaint and affidavit are these:

  • The investigation began in 2015 after federal investigators learned that drugs and other contraband were regularly entering the CCA.

  • Inside the prison, inmates took deliveries of contraband during meetings of the 12-step program, in the law library and during church services.

  • During phone calls from CCA, inmates gave family members and friends instructions on how to get money to the people who provided the contraband. In some cases, they argued over the phone about how to purchase Wal-Mart money grams.

  • During one phone conversation, inmates talked about getting “blistered” on drugs and walking around like “zombies” behind bars.

  • In one phone call from behind bars, an inmate directed family members to try “Superflea,” a flea market in Kansas City, Mo., to find synthetic marijuana for sale.

  • Inmates devised a scheme for disguising money arriving in incoming mail by using large manila envelopes with the names of law firms and concealing the money beneath a letter-sized white envelope affixed to the front of the envelope.

  • Inside CCA, contraband was expensive. In one conservation, an inmate described a pack of cigarettes costing $150 in CCA.

Upon conviction, the crimes carry following penalties:

Count one (methamphetamine conspiracy): A maximum of 20 years and a fine up to $1 million.

Counts two and five (providing or possessing methamphetamine in prison): A maximum of 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.

Counts three, four, six and seven (providing or possessing contraband in prison): A maximum penalty of six months and a fine up to $100,000.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Marshals Service, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Tomasic is prosecuting.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.

Updated April 12, 2016

Drug Trafficking