Drug dealers targeting WA jails have made hundreds of thousands of dollars using bogus TAB betting accounts to launder their profits and pay smugglers, which may include prison officers.
Former Greenough prison worker Jeanine Wyllie is now an inmate. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian
The scheme was uncovered by Operation Ulysses – a police task force set up last year to investigate organised crime links to the prison system.
A report by the task force has recommended the re-establishment of a police prisons unit after finding WA jails were awash with drugs.
More than 100 charges have been laid against more than 40 people as a result of the police operation that involved detectives going undercover as prison officers with the approval of Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis.
The West Australian understands that the task force has also exposed a criminal network that supplies prisoners with the same prescription drugs distributed to heroin addicts by the WA Health Department.
Administered under the tongue, the opioid strips are easily smuggled in to prisoners willing to pay up to $500 a strip.
Registered addicts sell the strips to prison dealers for as little as $35.
Operation Ulysses has warned the Health Department that it is partly to blame for the drug-trafficking racket because not enough is being done to monitor the medication, especially after urine samples taken from prisoners showed a surge in the amounts of the opioid drugs – known as buprenorphine – being detected.
The task force worked with the TAB to find betting accounts being used to pay people who smuggle in the drugs by transferring money to them.
Among those charged by the task force was a Department of Corrective Services employee who smuggled cannabis and a mobile phone to a jailed bikie while she worked as a chef instructor at Greenough prison near Geraldton. The woman was jailed on Thursday for 18 months.
At least two prison officers investigated over links to drug dealing have so far escaped charges.
One had his house raided but nothing incriminating was found. He later resigned from the department.
Another prison guard, who showed up at a drug dealer’s house in his uniform shortly after the dealer had been arrested by police, remains in his job.
A copy of the Operation Ulysses report has been sent to Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan for review.