On early Saturday, a minimum-security federal prison in Hopewell, Va., discovered that four of its inmates were missing.
This is the latest in a growing trend of lapses at low-security lockups throughout the United States.
According to multiple reports, the fugitives include a fentanyl dealer, a cocaine dealer, a heroin dealer, and another man convicted of federal firearms offenses.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons said Saturday that inmates Corey Branch, Tavares Lajuane Graham, Lamonte Rashawn Willis, and Kareem Allen Shaw were discovered missing from the Federal Correctional Complex-Petersburg’s satellite camp in Hopewell, Virginia, around 1:45 a.m.
Prison officials said in a statement:
“The United States Marshals Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement agencies were notified. An internal investigation was initiated.”
— Daniel Chaitin (@danielchaitin7) June 18, 2022
Branch, 41, is serving more than 13 years for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and possession of a firearm. Graham, 44, is serving 10 years on drug-related charges and possession of a firearm.
Willis, 30, is serving 18 years for possessing and concealing a stolen firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Shaw, 46, is serving more than 16 years for conspiring to deal heroin.
The BOP has come under fire in recent years for its lax security at similar federal prison camps nationwide, where doors are typically left unlocked and security cameras aren’t working.
Here’s a memo issued last year by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz:
“We were told that inmates sometimes place dummies in their beds or physically place themselves in other inmate beds during inmate counts. We found that unsecured doors allow inmates to move freely within the (camps) even when they were not permitted to do so and, thus, make it easier for them to both pose as other inmates during counts and escape.”
With this, an internal probe has been initiated, and the U.S. Marshals Service, FBI, and other law enforcement agencies have been notified.
It’s not clear whether the four conspired to escape or if they are together. Anyone with information about the escape is encouraged to contact the U.S. Marshals Service.