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Another guard accused of smuggling meth into prison

By Sarah Zoellick

LAST UPDATED: 01:26 a.m. HST, Jan 27, 2014

A Halawa Correctional Facility employee has been charged with allegedly smuggling methamphetamine into the Oahu prison, FBI Special Agent Tom Simon said Sunday.

Honolulu FBI agents along with state police arrested Mark Damas, a 45-year-old adult corrections officer, around 11 a.m. Sunday at the correctional facility, Simon said. He was later charged via criminal complaint with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possessing with the intent to distribute five grams or more of meth.

Simon said Damas was transported to the Honolulu FBI division office in Kapolei for processing, then to the Federal Detention Center where he will spend the night awaiting a Monday appearance in U.S. District Court.

"Both the FBI and the Department of Public Safety will continue to work together to ensure the integrity of Hawaii's correctional facilities," Honolulu FBI Special Agent in Charge Vida Bottom said in a news release. "We recognize that the vast majority of adult corrections officers are dedicated public servants who put their lives on the line every day for the greater good.  However, when allegations of corruption arise among prison employees, we will work with prison management to investigate wrongdoing and bring the corrupt to justice."

Damas is the second guard this month to face charges for allegedly smuggling meth into the prison.

Halawa Correctional Facility guard James "Kimo" Sanders III pleaded not guilty on Jan. 13 to charges related to smuggling meth into the prison and bribery.

Sanders, 31, of Kailua, was arrested at the prison Jan. 12 and charged with two counts of distributing methamphetamine; conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine; and bribery. He was released to his grandmother on a $50,000 bond and ordered to turn over his passport and wear a GPS device. 

Sanders is accused of distributing five grams or more of methamphetamine on Nov. 15, and distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine a week later, on Nov. 22. His trial is scheduled for March 18.

Department of Public Safety Director Ted Sakai said the latest arrest represents an ongoing effort between state and federal law enforcement to "weed out corrupt employees in our prisons and to bring individuals who commit these crimes to justice, ensuring the safety in our prisons and the public."

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Skyler wrote:
This is ridiculous. Drugs in prison don't just 'show up' - they're smuggled in. Time for a revamp of the system.
on January 26,2014 | 12:11PM
GoldenRule wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on January 26,2014 | 12:58PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Oriental Fed's, are they more trustworthy? Your post gave me a good laugh.
on January 26,2014 | 01:37PM
aomohoa wrote:
These prison guards are a bunch of over paid union workers in the first place. Now, are they not just losers that call in sick whenever they feel like it, they are discovering that some of them are no better the the criminals on the other side of the bars!
on January 26,2014 | 01:20PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
They flipped Sander and he squealed on Damas. 10 years in federal prison for you guys, the shoe is on the other foot now. Adios!
on January 26,2014 | 01:35PM
inverse wrote:
This is why Hawaii should continue to house Hawaii prisoners on the Mainland. This smuggling of meth into Hawaii prisons by Hawaii prison guards is probably just the tip of the iceberg.
on January 26,2014 | 01:39PM
MakikiView wrote:
Like this doesn't happen on the mainland? Or worse, no one is catching them. The only reason these arrests are being made is because the state and the feds are working together to week these guys out. Kudos to the FBI and PSD.
on January 26,2014 | 02:25PM
inverse wrote:
Missing the point that Hawaii is a small place and high likelihood guards know or even possibly are related to friends and families for those incarcerated at Hawaii prisons. Way too much of this type of influence for Hawaii prison guards to help Hawaii prisoners. On the mainland very unlikely mainland prison guards would help out Hawaii prisoners in this manner.
on January 26,2014 | 07:32PM
hanabatadayz wrote:
marc dumass
on January 26,2014 | 02:20PM
Wazdat wrote:
"We recognize that the vast majority of adult corrections officers are dedicated public servants who put their lives on the line every day for the greater good.

Really ?? I thought they were locked up and had no weapons, how is it so dangerous ?

on January 26,2014 | 02:27PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Have you evr been inside? If you have, you would know1
on January 26,2014 | 02:44PM
bekwell wrote:
You're kidding. Right?
on January 26,2014 | 02:59PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
Waz, how is it so dangerous? What a silly question.
on January 26,2014 | 03:03PM
caseyjun2001 wrote:
So ignorant! Sheesh Wazdat
on January 26,2014 | 08:49PM
cojef wrote:
What are the qualifications for prison guards? Seems like these standards are not being met, or they just turn bad because of the company they keep. Size matters, cause they have to have muscles to control the convicts. Perhaps there are not many candidates so. It like scraping the bottom of the barel.
on January 26,2014 | 03:26PM
scooters wrote:
Qualifications? Breathing and you tie your shoe laces.
on January 26,2014 | 08:43PM
GorillaSmith wrote:
The sole qualification to be a Hawaii prison guard is that the applicant be related to several other guards. There are plenty of applicants for the gig but the better ones never get a chance because they're going to hire "Kimo, Jr." every time. Everyone knows this but we can all expect nothing will be done about it.
on January 26,2014 | 10:37PM
rayhawaii wrote:
Sometimes inmates threaten your family so no matter what you going to lose if you help or not.
on January 26,2014 | 04:05PM
RandolphW wrote:
Smuggling contraband into Hawaii's prisons has been going on since anyone can remember. The problem is only controlled from a time to time, such as in this particular instance. This is just how the criminal justice system really operates, This is the way of life in Hawaii's prison systems. You have to remember that all the laws and regulations needed to address these problems have always been on the books. This is simply what happens when we have such a high level of corruption throughout our society and especially in government service.
on January 26,2014 | 06:02PM
soundofreason wrote:
Time for lie detector tests for all.
on January 26,2014 | 08:37PM
lauoho wrote:
Halawa prison is run by the long time Samoan guards and captains! If you don't do what they say or you speak up against them, they set you up! They pull in all their family & friends and most of them can't pass the tests or the physical benchmarks, but they still get hired! I don't know Damas, but I do know Sanders, and 2 other guards from the same recruit class that have repeatedly been set up because they either called other guards out for not following procedure, or they refused to continually work double shifts so a lazy old timer can call out sick! Three young men's lives turned completely upside down in ruins because they stood up for what is right, stood up against the real corrupt guards, and reported the corruption to their captains thinking justice would be done, only to be thrown under the bus by the corrupt captains!! And nothing is or ever will be done about it because the UPW keeps them in their jobs no matter what they do! They brag about it!
on January 26,2014 | 10:51PM
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