Prisoners 'used official laptops to mastermind £30m drugs operation'
A criminal gang carried out a £30 million drug-smuggling operation from their cells - using laptops supplied by the Ministry of Justice to help them prepare for legal cases, and which they managed to tamper with, it has been reported.
The plotters even paid more than £1 million to persuade a freelance "fixer" to get himself convicted of fraud and sent to their prison to co-ordinate the operation - which involved shipping a ton of heroin and ketamine to Britain, according to tomorrow's edition of The Independent.
The six-strong group came together at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London, where they used computers supplied by the authorities under a taxpayer-funded scheme to help them prepare their cases, the report said.
The security features were disabled by another member of the gang - an east European hacker - using a coded memory stick smuggled into the jail by one of the plotter's girlfriends.
The gang used the computers to communicate with overseas contacts to place the drugs on shipping containers of legitimate operators travelling from south Asia bound for Britain, the report added.
A Prison Service spokesman said: "Prisons are required to provide secure laptops to a minority of offenders facing trial so they can view legal material relating to their case.
"The computers do not enable prisoners to access any other part of the National Offender Management Service system and internet access is disabled.
"We will always take action against those attempting to break the rules and offenders face prosecution if they use equipment inappropriately."
It is understood that o nly those considered to have legal material too complex or bulky to view on paper have access to these laptops and new, more secure laptops are now starting to be supplied to some prisoners.