Gangs ’embarrass the legislation’ by utilizing IG to smuggle WiFi into jails | UK | News | EUROtoday

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Female in prison using smartphone

The Instagram web page, referred to as trick_a_screw in a thinly veiled reference to fooling jail guards. (Image: Getty)

Criminal gangs are “embarrassing” jail authorities by utilizing authorized loopholes and mundane gadgets to smuggle WiFi units and medicines into jails, specialists warn.

Instagram pages provide inmates a plethora of devices and medicines hidden in privileged authorized paperwork to supply them a “better lifestyle” behind bars.

WiFi dongles, video games consoles and sensible TVs are marketed as being clandestinely saved inside alarm clocks, beard trimmers and DVD gamers to idiot jail guards.

Crime specialists say that these units permit them to make contact with associates on the skin to organise potential assassinations and kidnappings in a ‘real-life Italian Job’ scenario.

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And, by being in jail when potential crimes are dedicated, inmates are stated to have the “perfect alibi” for not being concerned.

The Instagram web page, referred to as trick_a_screw in a thinly veiled reference to fooling jail guards, is claimed to have been in operation for two-and-a-half years earlier than the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) cottoned on to the net service.

An investigation by a neighborhood information web site discovered that the smuggling ring is at present underneath investigation by the MOJ and no less than one police pressure.

But after the jail smuggling web page was shut down by Instagram, one other near-identical account was arrange.

The smugglers posted movies on the social media platform promoting their wares getting used inside jail cells to show their credentials.

Dave McKelvey, a retired Met police detective who now runs a non-public investigation agency, stated: “The embarrassment this could cause the prison service and the police is incalculable.

“You could have criminals organising gangland hits, assassinations and kidnappings from inside prison cells.

“It’s like a real-life Italian Job, where the crime boss Mr Bridger authorises the heist from inside the prison.”

The trick_a_screw Instagram account – ‘screw’ being slang for prison guard – boasted of their ability to sneak contraband past prison staff.

One post explained: “We are here to trick a screw to trick the system. To make you anything to get into jail discretely and live a better lifestyle in jail.

“Can source most things so if you can’t see it still ask and we will see what we can do to hook you up.”

The page also bragged about offering ‘quality work and customer service’ and posted photos of piles of parcels waiting to be sent with captions stating they were ‘over 10k in on investments’.

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Meta Platforms - Photo Illustration

Instagram, who blocked the smugglers’ original account, declined to comment. (Image: Getty)

The gang ostensibly hides WiFi connectors called dongles inside seemingly mundane items, allowing inmates to secretly contact the outside world whilst locked in their cells.

Videos taken inside cells showed prisoners plugging manipulated alarm clocks into televisions which turned them into smart TVs capable of accessing communication services like WhatsApp and Instagram.

Gadgets advertised by the page included alarm clocks with WiFi for £350; beard clippers with WiFi for £400; a DVD player with WiFi for £1,200; a stereo with WiFi and a camera for £1,500; and an ‘Xbox One inside stereo plus android & dongle’ for £2,000.

The page also defended its prices in another post, stating ‘the price of my items reflects the service you get with me’ and that their devices were less likely to be detected during cell searches.

The smugglers also offer the addictive, mind-altering drug ‘spice’ by cleverly taking advantage of a legal loophole.

The group advertised ‘spice sheets’ – sheets of paper said to be soaked in the drug then dried – for £30 each or four for £100.

According to Middlesex University London, the dangerous drug was implicated in nearly half of unnatural deaths in English and Welsh prisons between 2015 and 2020.

The smugglers claimed to be able to sneak in up to 50 spice sheets at a time either alongside electrical items or by mailing the sheets disguised as privileged legal correspondence.

Under what’s generally known as Rule 39, prisoners are entitled to obtain authorized correspondence that may solely be intercepted if the jail has purpose to consider it is pretend or poses a safety danger.

Mr McKelvey, who spent 20 years busting organised crime gangs, admitted: “There’s a bit of genius in there…

“They’re using supposedly legally privileged material that can’t be intercepted. You would almost need a law change to prevent it.

“In this day and age, organised crime operates through smartphones and devices.

“If people are smuggling in these devices, it gives criminals the capability to continue their criminality from prison.

“You have a situation where they are not only potentially continuing to offend, but they also have the perfect alibi.

“Their get out of jail free card is literally: ‘I was locked up in jail at the time’.

“Organised crime and criminals adapt to circumstances and quite often law enforcement are months or years behind what’s really going on, so you’re forever playing catch-up.”

The smuggling ring is at present underneath investigation by the MOJ’s Digital Media Investigation Unit, which stated it had thwarted greater than 46,000 smuggling makes an attempt – although it didn’t specify inside what timeframe.

“We do not tolerate drugs and mobile phones in prison and those found with them face extra time behind bars,” a spokesperson for the prison service said.

Instagram, who blocked the smugglers’ original account shortly after the MOJ launched their investigation, declined to comment.

However, the smugglers were back online within no time as ‘Trick a Screw 2’.

Investigators found they even shared an email from Instagram about their old account being blocked, to prove to customers they were the same outfit.

“We see this on a daily basis,” Mr McKelvey, who now runs private investigation firm TM Eye, said.

He added that the one approach the smugglers can be stopped is by figuring out and prosecuting them – although neither social media websites nor legislation enforcement at present demonstrated the proactivity to take action.

“We deal with lots of websites selling counterfeit pharmaceuticals,” Mr McKenley continued.

“They get taken down and literally within hours they’re back up and running again.

“There seems to be no proactivity by the social media companies or even law enforcement to actually tackle these problems.

“There’s no point simply taking things down. You’ve got to identify the culprits, identify the offences they’ve committed and prosecute them.

“That’s the only way you’re going to resolve this issue.”