• Donald V. Watkins

Contraband Trafficking Ring Operated from Warden’s Office, SIS Unit at FCI Talladega

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on December 27, 2020


By the end of my fifth month at the Talladega Federal Correctional Institution, I had investigated, documented, and submitted a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) “whistleblower” complaint on widespread corruption at the prison camp where I was housed. The prison was a cesspool of fraud, waste, and abuse. My January 27, 2020 OIG complaint was “confidential” and warned the DOJ that prison officials would retaliate against me if the complaint was revealed to Talladega officials.


During the course of my 47-year legal career, I have reported public corruption to law enforcement agencies on numerous occasions. As former prosecutor and special counsel to heads of several governments, I have purged over two dozen “dirty” cops from police departments. I have prosecuted police officers for murder and other crimes. I have forced COINTELPRO federal prosecutors in Alabama to resign their jobs. I have also forced corrupt federal, state and local judges to resign from the bench. My track record in fighting public corruption is second to none.


However, nothing in my professional background prepared me for the cesspool of corruption I discovered at FCI Talladega. It was out of control. What is more, the prison had a contraband trafficking ring that operated from the Warden’s office and its Special Investigative Services (SIS) Unit. Items of contraband included cellular phones and their chargers, tobacco, marijuana and drugs.


“Stash houses” for the contraband were located in the Warden’s office, the SIS unit, and at the prison’s warehouse facilities. Contraband items were sourced by prison officials and distributed within the inmate population by trusted inmates. Within the prison camp where I was located, there were at least two trusted contraband dealers/resellers who flooded the place with contraband.


Between April 27 and May 6, 2020, several Talladega prison officials who were implicated in the OIG complaint learned of its existence. The retaliation was immediate, harsh, and unrelenting. On May 12, 2020, a prison correctional officer “planted” a cellphone charger in my dormitory locker after my dorm had been evacuated for a security search. An article published on November 7, 2020 and titled “OIG Complaint Reports Widespread Corruption at the Talladega Federal Prison” describes how prison officials framed me in this incident. I have been isolated from the general prison population since May 12th.


DOJ’s Response


Donald Trump’s DOJ viewed OIG “whistleblower” complaints with considerable disdain. Trump openly castigated “whistleblowers”. No DOJ official has interviewed me about the fraud, waste and abuse at FCI Talladega. Instead, the DOJ has permitted prison officials to place me in harm’s way for black mold inhalation, lead poisoning in Talladega’s water supply, COVID-19 exposure and a host of other dangerous conditions.


The ”defacto” U.S. Attorney in Birmingham, Alabama is Lloyd Peeples, a new-wave COINTELPRO federal prosecutor who runs the office’s day-to-day operations. He has turned a blind eye toward the contraband trafficking ring at FCI Talladega for reasons that are explained in an article titled, “Biden Must Quickly Fire COINTELPRO Prosecutors”.


The U.S. Bureau of Prisons in Washington has followed Trump’s lead in ignoring OIG “whistleblower” complaints. The Bureau’s “see no evil”, “hear no evil” approach allowed the corruption at FCI Talladega to flourish in 2019 and 2020.


On the morning of the May 12th dormitory search, FCI Talladega Camp Unit Manager Destiney Lassiter/Brooks assured me that I would have a “bad” day. She obviously knew that a phone charger would be “planted” in my locker and this incident would be used to punish me.


Two weeks later, Lassiter assured me that I would lose my contest of the bogus phone charger infraction. She was right.


Lassiter is also one of the prison employees implicated in the OIG complaint. Lassiter has a history of using inmate labor for her personal benefit. Inmates who accommodate Lassiter’s personal requests received special treatment, including an early release from prison.


SIS Unit’s Involvement


The prison’s SIS Unit is supposed to police inmate and officer misconduct. Surprisingly, the contraband trafficking ring at FCI Talladega is sourced and coordinated by a high ranking SIS officer who reportedly has a special but undisclosed relationship with one of the trusted inmate dealers/resellers. This relationship allowed the trafficking ring to operate without fear of disruption or adverse consequences.


Fortunately, there are documentary records and electronic footprints that can help a competent and unbiased investigator confirm the existence of the trafficking ring and identify the nature and scope of each person’s participation in these crimes. I will connect the dots for qualified and capable investigators who are NOT trying to cover-up these crimes. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Birmingham is too compromised to conduct this criminal investigation.


Interestingly, FCI Talladega officials freed two of the trafficking ring’s principal participants during the summer using COVID-19 as their cover. Both inmates were serial drug offenders. One was reported to have a familial relationship with the high-ranking SIS officer/participant.


Next Steps


After the new Biden/Harris administration and members of Congress assume office in late January, I will make all of my supporting evidence available to the staffs of the U.S. House and Senate Judiciary Committees for referral to the appropriate federal agencies. Obviously, somebody in a position of authority at Talladega was asleep at the wheel. Otherwise, the public corruption at Talladega would never have reached such epic proportions.


Efforts by FCI Talladega officials to discredit me as the “whistleblower” will likely fail. The same is true for Birmingham COINTELPRO federal prosecutor Lloyd Peeples. My experience and training in detecting, investigating, and rooting out public corruption prepared me on how to document and report it to the proper authorities. The evidence is there in a permanent format. This criminal case can be made without my testimony, but only if a legitimate federal prosecutor pursues it.



PHOTO: FCI Talladega Prison Camp

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