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MCSO shakedown turns up shanks, illegal alcohol

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio ordered a lockdown of the Fourth Avenue Jail Friday in an effort to combat gang violence in prison.

Officers, posse members and dogs searched more than 1,100 jail cells — including more than 2,000 beds — for any prohibited items.

“We came up with a lot of contraband,” said Arpaio. “A lot of shanks (stabbing devices) and hooch (illegal homemade liquor). We do this once in a while, but I thought it was time to do it again.”

The lockdown came as a direct result of the actions of a 15-year-old accused cop killer who is in in MCSO custody. The teen, who has been remanded as an adult, is incarcerated at the maximum security facility for allegedly fatally shooting MCSO Detention Officer Jorge Vargas in his driveway on Aug. 8. Moreno allegedly made comments in jail regarding his intention to “shank” or stab others and flashed gang signs.

Moreno was moved to a special unit where he isolated from other inmates and officers.

“There are a number of gang-related issues in our jails and on the streets that we need to take action on and we are starting today with this jail shakedown,” Arpaio said.

Arpaio said the shakedown was the first phase of a plan to stop gang violence — particularly gang violence directed at law enforcement — both in his prisons and outside of the,. He said he has plans to conduct a crime suppression operation in the near future.

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