(BLP) – On Thursday, March 5, 2020, federal investigators found a loaded gun that was apparently smuggled into the jail where Jeffrey Epstein allegedly committed suicide last summer.
The federal Bureau of Prisons informed The Associated Press that a weeklong lockdown was conducted to find other contraband along with the loaded gun. This lockdown also led to a criminal investigation into guard misbehavior.
The Bureau of Prisons officers found the handgun inside a housing unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, according to a statement prison officials sent to the AP. This discovery represents a significant breach of protocol and has called into question the security practices the Bureau of Prisons has in place, which is tasked with confining 175,000 federal inmates. The jail where Epstein was kept at, which has been considered one of the most secure in America, is now facing scrutiny for its security policies. Officials have not disclosed where the gun was exactly found, or how it was smuggled inside the jail.
In the meantime, federal prosecutors started a criminal investigation into potential guard misconduct. They focused on the flow of contraband into the prison.
Attorney General William Barr tapped a new director last week to head the agency, which has been the under the public microscope since Epstein reportedly committed suicide while being held in custody in August. The agency has allegedly been filled with various cases of misconduct, violence, and a chronic staffing shortages for years.
Last week, the investigation and search at the Manhattan facility started after officials were informed that a gun may have been smuggled into the prison. They subsequently placed the jail on lockdown “in order to protect the public, staff and inmates until a comprehensive search could be completed,” the agency revealed in a statement.
Since then, officials have been keeping inmates locked down in their cells without access to their lawyers and canceled all visitation at the jail, which houses about 700 inmates. In the past few days, officers have searched the facility and uncovered a sizable amount of contraband, including cellphones, narcotics and homemade weapons, the Bureau of Prisons said.
“All of these items pose a significant threat to the safety and security of the facility as well as the public,” the agency said in a statement.
“The BOP is committed to the safety of staff, inmates and the public while continuing to ensure that those responsible for misconduct and criminal activity are held accountable,” the statement read.
.This incident is just the latest chapter in the numerous crises taking place at the jail, which houses numerous high-profile inmates, which includes attorney Michael Avenatti, who became famous by representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in lawsuits filed against President Donald Trump. Federal prosecutors claimed that the two correctional officers tasked with watching Epstein’s jail cell were dozing off and doing Internet shopping when he committed suicide in his cell last August. The guards then forged records to make it appear that they were checking up on him.