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17 arrested - including correction officers - in contraband smuggling takedown at Rikers Island

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David Novarro reports. (Department of Investigation)

Seventeen people - including Rikers Island inmates and correction officers -- were arrested Thursday as part of a takedown of a contraband smuggling operation at Rikers Island.

Those arrested included two New York City Department of Correction officers, a DOC-employed cook and six inmates. Prosecutors said they conspired to bring scalpels, narcotics and other contraband into the jail in exchange for thousands of dollars in bribes.

"Aside from tarnishing his badge by taking bribes from inmates, Correction Officer Kevin McKoy allegedly smuggled in scalpels," Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said in a news release. "Even after his fellow Correction Officer, Ray Calderon, was slashed on his face requiring 20 stitches and photos of his grisly wound were publicized, McKoy allegedly continued to bring in these weapons."

The investigation into the smuggling was a joint effort with the Bronx County District Attorney's Office and the Department of Investigation.

The DA said the main conspiracy involved McKoy, 31, who also went by nicknames of "The Plug," "Ticks-and-Fleas" and other names, and worked in the Quad "12 Upper" housing area at Rikers. Inmates would allegedly call friends and family members, telling them to give contraband and cash to McKoy. He'd then bring in scalpels wrapped in duct tape to avoid metal detectors, synthetic marijuana (K2) and suboxone (opioid) strips to inmates, the prosecutor said. In all, he made at least $10,000 on the deals.

The monitored incidents happened between Sept. 12 and Nov. 24 in 2015, and McKoy later told investigators he had been bringing in contraband for cash for about a year.

As for Sufian, 25, the DA said he agreed to bring tobacco into the jail for $1,000.

A cook at Rikers, 27-year-old Darnell Wilson, was arrested on Feb. 25, 2016, with K2 and tobacco, which was hidden in his shoes. He told police he had been receiving $200 a week since the summer of 2015 for bring those items into the jail.

Here's a list of those arrested and charged in the various cases:

DEFENDANTS: McKoy/Sufian Conspiracy
- JACLYN ARCANGEL, 21, Civilian
- DUNTRELL CALDERON, (aka "True") 21, Inmate
- BONITTI COOK, 21, Inmate
- KELLY COPPINGER, 22, Civilian
- KEVIN MCKOY, 31, Correction Officer
- TARA MEEKS, 23, Civilian
- ANTHONY NICOLETTI, (aka "Mayhem") 24, Inmate
- MAURICE PARRISH, 28, Civilian
- MOHAMMED SUFIAN, 25, Correction Officer
- MICHAEL WILLIAMS (aka "B.M.") 24, Inmate
- MICHAEL WILLIAMS (note: B.M.'s brother), 19, Civilian
- BRANDON VILELLA (aka: "Mook Money"), 29, Inmate

- ERNEST SOBERANIS, (aka "Intel") 46, Inmate
- CARINA HOLDER, 20, Civilian

The arrests are the latest in a crackdown on inmate and visitor searches at Rikers Island, which have resulted in 48 percent more weapons recovered in city jails this year. Corrections officers found 2,780 knives and other weapons during those months, up from 1,875 over the same period the previous year.

Smuggled contraband has determined to be a leading reason for violence at city jails. Recent reforms have tightened screening procedures. For example, now jail officers board city buses filled with visitors just as they arrive at the main entrance to Rikers Island. The officers warn visitors they can dump any contraband in amnesty boxes.

This photo shows a previous undercover investigation where smuggling was happening at Rikers Island.

A news conference is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. Thursday to release details of the investigation and arrest.

ABC News' Diane Sawyer will report from behind the bars at Rikers Island on a special edition of 'Nightline' Friday.
Related Topics:
newsrikers islandjailRikers IslandNew York City
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