A former corrections officer from Chula Vista pleaded guilty July 6 to conspiracy to distribute illegal narcotics into the prison and accepting a bribe to do so.
Anibal Navarro, 39, admitted to accepting about $45,000 to smuggle heroin, methamphetamine, and cellphones into the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa where he had worked since 2003.
Navarro will be sentenced Sept. 28 in U.S. District Court in San Diego. He remains free on $25,000 bond and his guilty pleas were entered before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal.
The penalty for these offenses is high. He faces life in federal prison on the conspiracy to smuggle drugs and 10 years for accepting a bribe. He also faces a maximum fine of $270,000, according to court records.
He was arrested on June 26, 2016 by special agents with Internal Affairs as he was about to enter the prison. He was searched, and agents found 10 ounces of meth and four ounces of heroin that were intended for a certain inmate.
The bribes were allegedly paid by the inmates, their family members, and associates. Ten other people, some of them inmates, were also charged. The inmates allegedly involved in the scheme at Donovan have been transferred to other prisons.
The U.S. Attorney’s office said Navarro admitted to smuggling in drugs and cellphones into the prison about two to four times a month from 2014 to 2016. The girlfriend of one of the inmates allegedly gave Navarro the drugs.
The inmate’s girlfriend was contacted during a traffic stop in National City on May 14, 2016. Officers discovered illegal narcotics in the car along with six vacuum-sealed cellular telephones. The woman was given a citation to appear in court, was released, and then followed.
She was seen meeting with Navarro in Imperial Beach. On that occasion, she gave him the six cellphones which were later smuggled into the prison along with $1,000 in cash, according to court documents.