Monday 15 June
A Rimutaka prison guard, accused of dealing cannabis to inmates, has been remanded to appear in court in two weeks.
Jeffrey Mark Reid, 43, was arrested on June 4 and charged along with three prisoners and two women following a month-long cannabis investigation by the Corrections Department.
Reid, a unit manager in a high-security section of the Upper Hutt prison, was excused from appearing at Wellington District Court today, and remanded without plea on bail to reappear on June 29.
He faces charges of selling cannabis, conspiring to sell cannabis and cultivating cannabis
Saturday June 6
A senior prison manager charged with dealing cannabis to inmates was running one of the toughest units in Rimutaka, and an alleged accomplice is a career criminal who once beat a guard.
Jeffrey Mark Reid, 43, was arrested on Thursday and charged along with three prisoners and two women outside the wire following a month-long investigation, Operation Wire.
Police say Reid was part of a fledgling drug ring that was growing cannabis outside the prison and smuggling it inside to give to inmates.
They do not believe any cannabis was grown on prison grounds.
Reid was a unit manager, in charge of Unit HM7 and 8, a high-security section known to house a lot of gang members. He is a veteran of about 20 years in Corrections but has now been suspended from his job.
He appeared in Wellington District Court on Thursday charged with selling cannabis to Matthew Kidman, who sparked a two-day manhunt last November when he skipped bail on firearms charges.
He escaped from Hawke’s Bay Prison in 2004 while serving a six-year sentence for aggravated robbery, and once beat a prison guard during another botched escape attempt.
Kidman, two other prisoners and the two women will appear in court on Wednesday.
Reid was also charged with conspiring to sell cannabis and cultivating cannabis. He was remanded without plea, on bail, and will reappear on June 15.
Together, the six people face more than 20 supply, conspiracy and cultivation charges.
Six children were referred to Child, Youth and Family after being found in homes raided during the investigation.
Guards inside Rimutaka Prison were told of Reid’s arrest at a meeting on Thursday. A source said they were shocked because Reid was high up in prison management.
“He’s a unit manager, no one searches him,” said the source. “He can walk in loaded with dope. Who is going to search him?”
Reid’s Cuba St apartment and prison office were searched this week, along with addresses in Wellington and Hutt Valley and other areas inside the prison.
The arrests come 18 months after an inquiry found no systemic corruption at Rimutaka. It followed complaints from staff that a group of guards known as “the bro club” was smuggling in drugs, cellphones and food for prisoners.
At the time, 11 guards were suspended while the allegations were investigated.
Corrections Minister Judith Collins has asked for a report but said yesterday she was confident drug use was not rampant within Rimutaka.
“It is correct to say there is no systemic corruption,” she said. “It’s a prison full of criminals, and I think people should realise that.”
Corrections chief executive Barry Matthews said Reid’s arrest did not reflect the work of most prison guards.
A Rimutaka prison unit manager, three prisoners, and two other people are facing a range of cannabis-related offences following a Police and Corrections Department bust.
Four men – one of whom is the Rimutaka unit manager – and two women will be charged with more than 20 offences relating to cannabis supply, cultivation and conspiracy. The unit manager was charged yesterday, and the three prisoners are due in court later today. As part of the operation police raided several addresses in Wellington and the Hutt Valley.
Detective Senior Sergeant Darrin Thomson said close liaison with Corrections had allowed police to be “very effective in disrupting this syndicate”. The charges were the result of information provided by Corrections in April indicating some people were supplying cannabis to Rimutaka Prison inmates. “This is an excellent example of inter-agency cooperation that has enabled police to move quickly and effectively,” Mr Thomson said. “We believe the supply of cannabis was intended for Rimutaka inmates and the wider drug community”.
Corrections Department chief executive Barry Matthews said he expected “a high level of honesty and integrity from staff”. “The actions of one person should not detract from the hard work, dedication and professionalism shown by staff at Rimutaka Prison and across the country.”