dc jail

DC Jail Officer Took Bribes to Bring in Drugs, Knives: Feds

The alleged scheme was uncovered in part after correctional officers found narcotics, a pocketknife and several cellphones hidden in a light fixture

dc jail
Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A correctional officer at the DC Jail was arrested at the facility Thursday for allegedly accepting bribes to bring inmates drugs, knives and cellphones, federal prosecutors say. 

Johnson Ayuk, 31, of Bowie, Maryland, was charged with bribery and providing or possessing contraband in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

News4 broke the story on Twitter.

Ayuk began working at the jail in April 2021 and was tasked with maintaining order and security, prosecutors said. 

“He is accused of taking part in a smuggling operation in which he accepted money from the un-incarcerated girlfriend of an inmate to bring illicit materials — including knives, drugs, and cellular telephones — into the jail for distribution among inmates,” prosecutors said in a statement. 

The alleged scheme was uncovered in part after correctional officers found narcotics, a pocketknife and several cellphones hidden in a light fixture in January, court documents say. 

An inmate then told investigators that as early as last October, he acted as a “pickup person” for contraband in the jail. He said a correctional officer was involved in the effort and worked outside the jail as a fitness instructor on YouTube. 

The inmate said Ayuk told him he “would smuggle contraband into the facility by concealing the items in his groin area and under compression shorts that he wore beneath his uniform,” court documents say. He then allegedly left the contraband in a shower area for an inmate to retrieve. The scheme involved multiple inmates, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors built the case using surveillance footage, recorded jail phone calls and texts. 

The D.C. Department of Corrections launched an investigation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI’s Washington Field Office, DOC said in a statement. 

Ayuk appeared in court Thursday and was released on high-intensity supervision, prosecutors said. It was unclear if he had a lawyer. He’s due in court again March 10. 

Corrections officials have faced increased scrutiny in recent months. After decades of complaints about the DC Jail, defendants charged in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol flagged poor conditions. U.S. marshals conducted a surprise inspection in October and found “systemic failures” including employees withholding food and water was punishment, sewage overflowing from toilets and rampant drug use.

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