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Another guard accused of smuggling meth into prison

By Sarah Zoellick

LAST UPDATED: 1:26 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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