To investigators, Tavon White is a thug who has been in and out of jail since he was 18, most recently on charges that he shot a fellow drug dealer four times. He is allegedly a high-ranking “bushman” in the Black Guerilla Family, a gang with a reputation for not just killing its enemies but also burning down their homes.
But during his three years at the state-run detention center, White, 36, was allegedly a figure who commanded respect, not only from fellow inmates in jumpsuits but also from many of the women in blue collared shirts and pressed slacks guarding him. Thirteen of them allegedly smuggled cellphones and drugs inside their hair, lunches and underwear for the man they called “Bulldog” or “Tay.” One tattooed his name on her neck, another on her wrist. Four have carried his children. --
It was here, in this troubled place, that White seized an opportunity. He used the jail’s lax security, its female guards and his unusually long three-year stay at the facility to build what prosecutors described as a lucrative drug-trafficking and money-laundering operation, complete with a “minister of finance.”--
The corruption extends far beyond the 13 women charged, the affidavit suggested, with one inmate estimating that as many as 70 percent of the corrections officers were compromised.--
With the ease of ordering takeout, White used a smuggled cellphone to arrange exchanges between outside drug dealers and corrections officers, who brought the contraband to him to be sold inside the jail at huge markups, the affidavit alleged. Percocet went for $30 a pill; one-gram bags of marijuana sold for $50. The gang’s control was so complete that any non-member who tried to get in on the action had to pay a tax or risk physical harm.--
In one taped conversation, White boasted that he made $15,800 that month, less than normal. “This is my jail. You understand that?” he said to a friend. “I’m dead serious. . . . I make every final call in this jail. . . . Everything come to me.” --
The gang also recruits relatives, girlfriends and fellow gang members without criminal records to apply for positions as corrections officers to establish a network of operatives within the prison walls, he said.