Zurich County Prison: Governor trades drugs and cell phones in Zurich prison

Zurich County Prison: Governor trades drugs and cell phones in Zurich prison

Updated 2. June 2022, 06:05

Videos from the Zurich prison show prisoners bragging about smuggled cell phones and drugs – cocaine and marijuana – in their cells. For 20 minutes he was able to talk to a former inmate.


Lynn Sachs

Daniel Krahenbuehl

Monira Djurdjevic

In the films, prisoners pose with drugs and show how they use their cell phones.


“When I was new to the prison, the warden came up to me and said that I should let him know if I needed anything,” says a former inmate *, who wishes to remain anonymous. Fearing it might be a trap, he initially refrained from it. “Soon after, I found out that other prisoners also obtained cell phones and drugs this way.” After all, he also “ordered” a cell phone from his supervisor. A friend met the warden and handed him the money. Soon after, I had a cell phone in my cell and was able to contact my family and friends, the man says.

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In total, the guard smuggled about twenty cell phones into the prison. He asked for between 1,500 and 3,500 francs for the device. Reportedly, he demanded CHF 500 per prisoner for drug smuggling. “He didn’t buy drugs himself. Friends of the prisoners had to do it. Then they handed over the goods to the chief. “

The raid put an end to the smuggling

For several months, such prohibited items were imprisoned. At the beginning of April it was over. The whole thing was discovered during the raid. According to the former prisoner, at least one employee should be released. Upon request, the Zurich Justice Department can confirm that the prohibited items were confiscated during a cell inspection at a Zurich prison in early April. “It is not yet possible to say whether and to what extent employees are involved,” says spokeswoman Elena Tankovski. Due to the protection of privacy, the office does not want to further comment on individual cases.

There is a lot of movement in and out of every prison. “This means that the fight against smuggling is a constant task for all prisons,” explains Tankovski. If someone becomes aware of a serious misconduct by employees, personnel action can be taken, up to and including termination of employment. “If there are indications of criminal behavior of detainees or employees, the office will file a criminal complaint in the case of official crimes or, in the case of criminal offenses – if the office has the right to bring a criminal complaint – it will file a criminal complaint,” says Tankovski.

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“Pre-trial detention is open”

Criminal law expert David Gibor sharply criticizes the employee’s behavior: “It is highly reprehensible when government officials responsible for monitoring take advantage of the plight of prison inmates to supplement their officials’ wages with crimes such as drug trafficking.” were equipped with cell phones. The reason for this: “Pre-trial detention is primarily intended to prevent suspects from destroying evidence or influencing third parties, such as witnesses and victims, in their trial. including those involved in the crime – one of the main purposes of pre-trial detention is being called into question. ‘

According to Gibor’s lawyer, the described economic activity of the prison guards involved may constitute various crimes. For example: abuse of office, offenses against the Narcotics Act, usury, favoritism, and bribery. “Depending on the amount of drugs and the number of cell phones, more serious variants of the crime, such as commercial activities with high prison sentences, may also be considered for certain crimes,” says Gibor.

“Smuggling cannot be completely prevented”

According to Benjamin Brägger, director of the Swiss Institute of Prison and Prison Sciences, several similar cases are known from western Switzerland (see box). “However, in German-speaking Switzerland, trafficking in illegal objects and substances in prisons is extremely rare.” Each institution tries to prevent smuggling by means of control measures. “But it cannot be completely avoided without further violating the privacy of prisoners by the prisons, which is prohibited by law.”

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Also, according to former Inspector Detective Markus Melzl, a prison can never be fully secured. “However, it is important that the responsible authorities immediately start an investigation in such a case, draw the necessary conclusions and check whether a weak point in the system needs to be fixed,” explains Melzl.

* Name known to the editors

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