15 Sep 2020

Haul of contraband found being smuggled into Rimutaka Prison

1:39 pm on 15 September 2020

Drugs and cellphones have been discovered being smuggled into Rimutaka Prison.

Rimutaka Prison

Rimutaka Prison Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The haul of contraband - which includes 1.5 grams of methamphetamine, more than 50 grams of cannabis, and ten mobile phones - was found last Thursday while a delivery vehicle was being searched entering the Wellington-region facility.

There were also 30 LSD tabs and 200 grams of tobacco.

"Our staff do an outstanding job in ensuring contraband is kept out of our prisons, and Thursday's find is another example of their commitment to keeping our sites safe," prison director Viv Whelan said.

"The safety and security of our sites, staff and the people we are managing is a top priority for us.

"We place significant emphasis on the prevention and detection of contraband introduction in prisons and we are constantly working to stay one step ahead of new methods used to introduce contraband into our prisons."

Police are now investigating the incident.

Police have been investigating possible corruption at Rimutaka Prison for the past eight weeks.

"[The discovery is] unfortunate for everybody that works at Rimutaka, there's a bit of a highlight on there with the police investigation going," Corrections Association president Alan Whitley said.

"But I think what they can take from Thursday is there are good staff there doing a great job, and they're trying to keep contraband out of that prison."

There are various methods employed to smuggle in contraband, Whelan said:

  • Concealed on a prisoner's body
  • Posted in with mail and property
  • Thrown over perimeter fencing
  • Smuggled into the prison by visitor
  • She said they used methods such as "extensive prison perimeter security ... camera surveillance in prison visit rooms ... scanners and x-ray machines at entry points ... [and] random and targeted monitoring of prisoner telephone calls."

    Whitley said the discovery "shows the prison has got good entry searching".

    "You can always improve what you're doing, you can always look for different methods of doing it, using different technology to support it, but the fact that they found this is showing that they're doing their job and doing it well."

    RNZ understands the investigation relates to gang members, money laundering and inmates paying Corrections staff.

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