Three Sentenced Including Inmate After Admitting To Smuggling Scheme

U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummins sentenced three people on April 17 for the involvement of smuggling contraband into Big Spring Correctional Center (BSCC) in Howard County Texas. An inmate, another individual involved and a former employee at BSCC were all sentenced.

Jonas Cruz, 34, who was an inmate at BSCC, was sentenced to 24 months in a federal prison, following his 211-month federal sentence he is serving for his guilty plea in January 2004. Cruz was charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of possession of a firearm in connection with a drug crime.

Former recreational specialist at BSCC, Eva Bermea, 42, was sentenced to 36 months probation, with eight months served in home confinement. She pled guilty on December 30 to aiding and abetting and one count of bribery of public officials. Kami Nicole Bennet, 32, was sentenced to one year of probation. She was Bermea’s friend and on December 30, 2014 she pled guilty to superseding information and one count of misprision of a felony.

In January 2014 the investigation began when the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General suspected Bermea of smuggling contraband into the prison for an inmate, in particular, Cruz. The investigation suggested that Bermea has developed a close friendship with Cruz and, during September 2013, they began smuggling contraband into the prison for Cruz to re-sell to other inmates.

Cruz admitted using his brother to transfer the money he received from other inmates, and for smuggling tobacco products and sports enhancing supplement Creatine, he paid Bermea $1,500. His brother would then transfer the money to Bennett, recruited by Bermea in order to help her package and conceal the contraband for smuggling and help with transferring payments.

As the Department of Justice OIG conducts the investigation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paulina Jacobo prosecuted the case.

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