NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The problem of illegal cell phones being smuggled in to Texas inmates came to light five years ago when a death row inmate called Senator John Whitmire and made threats. Now that Texas senator is again the victim of a death threat.
Officials told Sen. Whitmire that an informant contacted them to report that a prison gang had put a hit out on him, because of conditions on death row. Given the past threats made against Whitmire, the assassination of Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse and most recently the murder of the head of Colorado’s top prison official.
The informant reportedly said the Mexican Mafia prison gang was plotting to kill Whitmore as he ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant that he frequents.
Whitmore, who is the chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, received another notable threat in 2008 when a death row inmate a smuggled cellphone to call and make threats against him and his family.
The incident prompted an unprecedented lockdown of the entire 150,000-inmate prison system, while authorities swept the facilities for contraband. Whitmore’s call was placed from the prison unit in Livingston. The sweep at that facility alone found cell phones on 14 death row inmates, including the one who threatened the senator.
In 2008 the senator recalled, “They found it in the side of the wall. They found some chips on the wall and they broke it down and they pull the phone out.”
No charges have yet been filed. Officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice are investigating the incident and say they are tracking down leads surrounding the threat.
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