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Guard took bribes from inmates to smuggle drugs

Published: 4:31PM Tuesday November 27, 2012 Source: ONE News

A former prison guard has admitted accepting bribes in exchange for smuggling illegal drugs into jail. 

Perive Matuaitofiga, 25, was trafficking cannabis and tobacco into Spring Hill prison in north Waikato for six months, with an inmate using a cellphone to help arrange the drug deal from jail.
 
The case has prompted calls for an independent unit to police standards across the Corrections Department.
  
Matuaitofiga supplied cannabis and tobacco and struck a deal to supply another drug, similar to ecstasy.
 
The former guard was being paid $500 for each contraband drop.

Thirty grams of tobacco retails for about $33, but Matuaitofiga was carrying twice that - even though tobacco is illegal in prison - along with more than 40 grams of cannabis and pills, when he was caught, apparently by chance.
 
Signs along the road into Spring Hill prison make it very clear what items are banned, but Matuaitofiga turned up there ready to make another drop off of drugs and contraband.

However, this time he was met by security guards who were searching prison officers as they came to work, and he had three large packages hidden in his jacket.

That drug deal was organised by a Spring Hill inmate using a mobile phone. They are supposed to be banned in prison too.

"We do have cellphone blocking in the vast majority of the particular site involved. It doesn't work in every area," said Terry Buffery, Department of Corrections central regional manager.

"I do think he was acting alone. Our prisoners are very manipulative people and they would want to give the officer a feeling of comfort," Buffery said.

Outside court in Huntly where he appeared today, Matuaitofiga did not respond to questions from ONE News about how much money he was offered to smuggle the drugs into the prison and whether other guards are doing this.

Matuaitofiga's claims that he specifically told the inmates he was in business with not to tell him about other guards involved.

The Green Party says this case highlights the need for an independent authority to police professional standards across Corrections.

"We want to bring these things into the light because that after all is the best way to ensure that we don't get repeats of this sort of offending within prison staff," said Green Party MP David Clendon.

Matuaitofiga was sacked this month and will be sentenced on seven bribery charges in January.

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