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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 13, 2022

Former Corrections Officer Sentenced to 3 Years for Smuggling Drugs and Cell Phones into State Prison

SAN DIEGO – Anibal Navarro, a former corrections officer at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, was sentenced in federal court today to 37 months in prison for smuggling methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana and cell phones into state prison.

Navarro pleaded guilty, admitting that he was part of a network of 12 individuals both inside and outside the prison that smuggled in contraband and illegal narcotics. All the other defendants have pleaded guilty and been sentenced (case number 17cr446-AJB).

One of Navarro’s co-conspirators, prison inmate Martin Gomez, organized and directed the other participants, including Navarro, from his cell in California state prisons in San Diego and Los Angeles. Gomez arranged for individuals outside of prison to smuggle contraband into Donovan prison and deliver drugs and cell phones to various inmates through Navarro. Gomez directed those inmates to receive the contraband and deliver it to still other inmates within the prison.

Gomez approached Navarro while Gomez was an inmate at Donovan, offering him an avenue to make extra money that Gomez knew Navarro needed. Navarro was paid between $1,000 and $2,000 each time he smuggled contraband into the prison. Gomez continued to lead the conspiracy for over two years, even after he was transferred out of Donovan to another prison. Over 500 grams of methamphetamine, heroin, cell phones, and other contraband were smuggled into Donovan through Navarro at Gomez’s direction while he was incarcerated elsewhere.

The smuggled phones were used to coordinate criminal activity both inside and outside Donovan.

“Corrections Officers are charged with the responsibility of keeping the public, inmates, and other prison staff safe,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “Former Officer Navarro personally profited from creating a dangerous environment in the prison by smuggling in extremely harmful and addictive narcotics. Additionally, cell phones inside a prison allow inmates to coordinate other illegal acts, like smuggling drugs, fraud, and even violence.  Today’s sentence demonstrates that the significant consequences far outweigh any financial gain for those who abuse their positions of trust.” Grossman thanked the prosecution team, the FBI, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Office of Internal Affairs, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Investigative Service Unit and the United States Postal Service – Inspector Service, for their excellent work on this case.

“Anibal Navarro abused his position and betrayed his oath as a Corrections Officer to further a conspiracy which included smuggling dangerous drugs and cell phones into our state prison system, allowing inmates to continue their criminal enterprise even while incarcerated,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner. “Today’s sentence hopefully sends a message to any government employee considering using their position of authority to further their own interests and enrich themselves – the FBI will continue to work diligently to root out public corruption at all levels.”

The FBI encourages the public to report allegations of public corruption to our hotline at (877) NO-BRIBE (662-7423).

DEFENDANT                                                           Case No. 16cr1664

Anibal Navarro                                                           Age 43             Chula Vista, California

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Distribute Illegal Narcotics – Title 21, U.S.C., Sections 841(a) and 846;

Bribery Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 666

Maximum penalty: Life in prison and $20 million fine

AGENCY

Federal Bureau of Investigation – San Diego Field Office

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Office of Internal Affairs

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Investigative Service Unit

United States Postal Service – Inspector Service

Contact: 
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Sanniti (619) 546-8811
Press Release Number: 
CAS22-0113-Navarro
Updated January 13, 2022