Kansas U.S. Attorney Announces Charges In Leavenworth Prison Drug Smuggling Ring

Apr 11, 2016

A correctional officer stands accused of smuggling tobacco, drugs and other contraband into the Leavenworth Detention Center, U.S. Attorney for Kansas Barry Grissom announced Monday.

“Inmates could have their choice of vices,” Grissom said at a news conference. “Everything from methamphetamine to tobacco.”

Anthon Aiono, 28, of Platte City, Missouri, has been charged in federal court with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, providing methamphetamine to inmates, providing synthetic marijuana to inmates and providing tobacco products to inmates.

Inmates at Leavenworth paid exorbitant prices for contraband, such as $150 for a pack of cigarettes. Friends and family members wired money to pay for the drugs, which allowed inmates to walk around like “zombies,” according to Grissom.

Two inmates, 35-year-old Stephen Rowlette and 41-year-old Karl Carter, have been charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine as well as possession of methamphetamine, synthetic marijuana and tobacco.

Three people outside the prison have also been charged.

Grissom praised Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Tomasic, who will prosecute the case.

“We have folks that have been working together at the state and local level,” he said. “We have the KBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service. It was a textbook examples of how local, state and federal law enforcement officials work together.”

The Corrections Corporation of America operates the detention center. At the news conference, Grissom said he found it hard to believe correctional officers didn’t notice other contraband – chiefly pornography – posted in inmates’ cells.

Also Monday, Grissom confirmed he will step down Friday to take a job in private practice.

Grissom has been the U.S. Attorney for Kansas since 2010. Tom Beall, the first assistant U.S. attorney, will serve as interim until President Obama makes an appointment.

Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.