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Ex-Guards Sent to Prison for Smuggling

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    More than a dozen former Texas prison guards have been sentenced over a racketeering and smuggling ring involving drugs and cellphones slipped to inmates.

    A federal judge in Corpus Christi on Thursday finished sentencing 14 former Texas Department of Criminal Justice corrections officers and 11 others, including  inmates, to prison or probation.

    Prosecutors say all pleaded guilty this week to charges linked to racketeering, conspiracy or drugs at the McConnell Unit in Beeville, about 50 miles north of Corpus Christi. The ex-guards received sentences ranging from probation to 28 months behind bars.

    The investigation began in 2009 when some imprisoned gang members used banned cellphones to try to sell stolen vehicles to Mexican cartel members. Officials say phones and drugs were smuggled into the McConnell Unit by guards.