Dec. 3 (UPI) -- More than two dozen Maryland corrections officers were indicted on charges including use of excessive force, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Tuesday.
Twenty-five members of the Baltimore Central Regional Tactical Unit were indicted on 236 criminal counts, including first-degree assault, participation in a criminal gang and misconduct in office. They were accused of acting as a criminal enterprise to maintain their dominance and operational territory.
"To achieve this purpose the alleged enterprise engaged in illegal and excessive force through assaults of inmates, use of threats against inmates and various retaliatory tactics to ensure compliance with TAC's authority," Mosby said.
Among those charged were Capt. Kevin Hickson, the tactical unit's supervisor, and about half of its membership.
Mosby said 21 of the 25 people charged had been arrested as of Tuesday afternoon and all of the arrested officers were already on administrative leave. They are now suspended without pay pending their trials.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union that represents Maryland corrections officers, said it had "no independent knowledge about the facts alleged" in the case.
"The correctional officers charged today should receive the process and rights that they are due under Maryland law and the U.S. Constitution. They are innocent until proven guilty," the union said. "AFSCME does not condone any unlawful acts or any mistreatment of detainees, inmates, or any individual."
Federal authorities also arrested 19 people, including three prison guards, for running a smuggling ring at a medium-security prison and 18 people, including two guards, were charged with smuggling drugs and cellphones into a maximum-security prison in the state.
"We are again making clear that we have absolutely no tolerance whatsoever for corruption of any kind in our state prison system or anywhere else in state government," Gov. Larry Hogan said.