Revelations about the apparent ease with which prisoners can get around measures in place to restrict their phone usage came to light in an indictment against an already convicted gang leader who continued his criminal activities from inside prison walls.
“This happens all the time. We need a totally new system,” Christer Isaksson, head of security for the Swedish Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården), told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.
When police surveillance teams listened in on one phone call, which the man had with a fellow criminal, they assumed he was using a mobile phone that had been smuggled into the Hällby prison outside Eskilstuna in central Sweden.
But further investigation revealed that the 22-year-old man, who leads the Wereworlf Legion criminal gang, was actually using the prison’s own – supposedly blocked – telephone to commit further crimes.
He was able to call freely and hand down orders to his accomplices outside the prison, where he was already serving a lengthy prison sentence.
According to police transcripts of one telephone conversation, the gang leader instructed an accomplice to force an enemy to pay 100,000 kronor ($12,700).
“Tell XXX, ‘You have until the fucking 25th.’ If he doesn’t cough up the first hundred, God knows what I’m going to do to him,” the police heard the 22-year-old say.
The telephone used by the gang leader is connected to the prisons INTIK telephone system, which is supposed to restrict inmates from making calls to anyone other than relatives and people outside criminal gangs.
Each call must be approved ahead of time by prison officials.
But inmates can bypass the restrictions by using a previously approved telephone number which is then later rerouted to an internet telephone number. That number is then in turn connected to a foreign telephone calling card.
All the gang leader needs to do in order to make calls to anyone in the world is obtain an access code and load the card with calling credits.
“That an inmate can use a prison telephone as a tool to commit crimes is of course very serious,” said Fredrik Leinfelt of Stockholm’s southern district police who investigated the 22-year-old, to DN.
According to Isaksson, the INTIK system is old and needs to be replaced.
“The problem is that there isn’t any complete system to buy. Just as with INTIK, we need to develop something ourselves,” he told DN, adding development would likely take two years and cost a lot of money.